Glory and Pride: A Push to the Top

With little more than halfway through the 2013-14 season, we
are seeing a trend amongst Europe’s elite battling for the right to claim the
glory of a season title and pushing for the gratification of representing their
club amongst Europe’s best in the Champions League. In this post, we will break
down the fight for the right to call yourself the best, the champion, il
campione, el campeon; and dive into the struggle of relegation.

Starting in the heart of Southern Europe, two of Spain’s
mainstays atop the table, Barcelona and Real Madrid, have unexpected company at
the helm of the league with former Argentinean national player Diego Simeone’s
Atletico Madrid. All three are tied with 57 points 23 matches played so far.
Barcelona is in the lead due to goal differential of +46 to Real’s +41 and
Atletico’s +40.

In the Atletico Madrid v. Almeria match, Simeone’s men
obtained the possession throughout the game, however it played into them
lacking to finish. With the chance to move into sole possession of first place,
Almeria’s Verza netted a double with his latter goal being a penalty due to a
harsh foul by goalkeeper Aranzubia, which resulted in a red card. This defeat
to a bottom feeder will have a larger impact on next week’s game when they play
Real Madrid on February 11th, 2014.

Real Madrid upcoming clash with city rival, Atletico Madrid,
will have an impact on the push for the La Liga title. With Atletico being the
home team and Real Madrid coming off of a 4-2 victory over Villareal with a
double by Benzema, this match has implications on who takes the driver seat for
the second half of the La Liga season.

On a rainy night in Stadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Sevilla
took the lead in 15th minute and Alexi Sanchez capitalized on a free
kick from Barcelona’s Messi in the 34th minute to equalize the game
on a controversial call of offsides. Before the half, Messi scored with a
stunning strike assisted by Iniesta to bring them into a halftime lead. From
there, the game turned into a 4-1 victory for Barcelona to ensure their grasp
on La Liga.

Within the heart of the Italian Peninsula, Napoli and Roma
are chasing the historically strong Juventus, to see who claims the right to
the Scudetto.  A resurgent Napoli squad
played a struggling AC Milan squad under new coach Clarence Seedorf, in which
AC Milan had a bright start with newcomer Adel Taarbat scoring the first goal
in 8th minute with a right foot blast past Napoli goalkeeper Rena.
After Napoli regained its composure in the 11th minute through
Gokhan Inler’s deflected shot, they went to defeat Milan 3-1 by Gonzalo
Higuaian’s 56th and 82nd minute goal to leave Mario
Balotelli crying on the sideline.

In one of the largest derbies in Europe, Lazio and Roma face
off in the Derby della Capitale. With a game in hand, Roma needed the three
points to reach northern leaders, Juventus. With emotions high and Lo Stadio
Olimpico packed, Gervinho’s controversial goal in the first half which was
called off by an offside’s decision, would’ve catapulted Roma with a win and
three crucial points against city rivals. A heated game enriched in pride,
ended 0-0 with neither side happy of the result.

With a lead they thought the could hold, newcomers Hellas
Verona battled back in the second half to score a draw with league leader,
Juventus, 2-2. The game started in the 4th minute by Carlos Tevez
which was than followed up by another by the Argentinean striker in the 21st
minute to give them a commanding 2-0 lead. Both goals extremely controversial
with evidence showing offside’s on both goals, further sparking the debate of
the consistency of Italian referees. This game was dramatized by Luca Toni’s
goal in the 52nd minute and deflating goal in the 94th
minute by Gomez, for the draw.

In jolly old England, Mourinho’s men in blue have taken reigns
of the Barclay’s Premier League with a victory over Newcastle United behind
Hazard’s hat trick. The EPL has seen a lot of flip flopping between the top
four teams leading to an interesting second half of the season. Chelsea matches
up against West Bromwich Albion in what should be easy victory to increase its
league lead.

In Anfield, Liverpool flexed its muscle’s against than
leading Arsenal with a 5-1 blowout to make Arsene Wenger’s club look like a pee
wee squad with Liverpool gaining momentum to make it a four team race to the
title. By halftime, Arsenal might have well been packing their bags after
Daniel Sturridge’s 20th minute goal to make it 4-0 at half.

In the stadium in which Norwich City calls home, the
Canaries denied Manchester City the right to call themselves league leaders
with a 0-0 draw to shock the English soccer world. Norwich, who was blasted 7-0
at the Etihad Stadium in November, showed that they can hang with the best of
the best with one of their best showings of the year. Manchester City will need
to be on the lookout for Sunderland, who is their next opponent, as they will
be matched up against a team who is one spot above relegation and will fight
for every point to the finish to stay above that dreaded red line. Manuel
Pellegrini and his men will need to raise their game to keep pace in the wide
open EPL.

Please make sure to follow us next week as we dive into the
state of mind of the teams trying to stay above relegation and how it
differentiates between Europe and the U.S; with our article, “Life in the Deep
End.”

P.S. Beginning March 15th, the Royal Mile will be
offering a full breakfast menu in which we will be showing all live soccer
matches that a soccer fan can want. Please stay tuned for more information.

Upcoming Games:

Tuesday February 11th:

Copa Del Rey: Atletico Madrid v. Real Madrid- 2:00 PM

Coppa Italia: Fiorentina v. Udinese- 2:00 PM

EPL: West Brom v. Chelsea- 2:00 PM

Wednesday February 12th:

EPL: Arsenal v. Manchester United- 1:45 PM

EPL: Everton v. Crystal Palace- 1:45 PM

EPL: Manchester City v. Sunderland- 1:45 PM

EPL: Newcastle United v. Tottenham Hotspur- 1:45 PM

EPL: Stoke City v. Swansea City- 1:45 PM

EPL: Fulham v. Liverpool- 2:00 PM

Copa Del Rey: Real Sociedad v. Barcelona- 3:00 PM

Coppa Italia: Napoli v. AS Roma- 1:45 PM

Friday February 14th:

Italian Serie A: AC Milan v. Bologna- 1:45 PM

French Ligue 1: PSG v. Valenciennes- 1:30 PM

Saturday February 15th:

English FA CUP: Sunderland v. Southampton- 6:45 AM

English FA CUP: Manchester City v. Chelsea- 11:15 AM

Italian Serie A: Fiorentina v. Inter Milan- 1:45 PM

German Bundesliga: Bayern Munich v. SC Freiberg- 8:30 AM

German Bundesliga: Bayer Leverkusen v. Schalke 04- 11:30 AM

Sunday February 16th:

English FA CUP: Everton v. Swansea City- 7:30 AM

English FA CUP: Arsenal v. Liverpool- 10:00 AM

Spanish Primera Division: Getafe v. Real Madrid- 10:00 AM

Italian Serie A: Juventus v. Chievo Verona- 8:00 AM

Italian Serie A: AS Roma v. Sampdoria- 1:45 PM

French Ligue 1: Lyon v. AC Ajaccio- 7:00 AM

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