Friday's soccer news starts with the draw for the 2017-18 Champions League semifinals. On one side of the bracket, old acquaintances Bayern Munich and Real Madrid. On the other, Liverpool plays Roma in a rematch of the 1984 final. Well, a meeting of the same teams that once played for a trophy in a noticeably different version of the European club championship. Times have changed, and right now that means Real Madrid in position for a three-peat.
La Liga's dominance in Europe centers on Real Madrid. Barcelona might have been the favorites and the La Liga leaders this season, but they've got five European Cups to Real Madrid's dozen. A league down in the Europa, Atletico Madrid plays Arsenal with Red Bull Salzburg vs Marseille in the other semifinal. Should Atletico advance, it would be the first time a La Liga club played for the Europa League title since... well, since Sevilla three-peated from 2014-16.
Here's how UEFA explains their league coefficient system. "The associations' club coefficients rankings are based on the results of each association's clubs in the five previous UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League seasons. The rankings determine the number of places allocated to an association (country) in forthcoming UEFA club competition."
Would it surprise anybody to learn that Spain is top of the UEFA coefficient ranking with 105.284 points to England's 79.034? Switch to club coefficient and it's Real Madrid topping the table over Bayern Munich with Atletico in 3rd-place after losing two Champions League finals to city rivals Real and Barcelona in 4th. Let's not forget Sevilla's Europa League title streak. They're in 6th, behind Juventus and ahead of PSG. Check UEFA's ten-year club coefficient and it's still Real Madrid in the top spot with Barcelona moving up the 2nd and Atletico in 4th-place.
"It’s very difficult to get to the semi-final of the Champions League and Real Madrid have done this eight times in a row," Real Madrid director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno said following Friday's Champions League semifinal draw. "You have to give credit to the players for everything that they are doing. We now have another challenge. Bayern are a great team, with very good players and incredible international experience, it will be very difficult."
We'll give them difficult, but it's also familiar for the most successful club in Europe. This is the point for a club like Real Madrid and for the elite of La Liga. That's not an empty statement when they keep winning in Europe.
Also in the soccer news, Bill Hamid was in goal for FC Midtjylland's 2-1 win at Hobro in the Danish Cup quarterfinals. With the game finishing scoreless in regulation, Bozhidar Kraev put Midtjylland up in the 99th minute. Hobro equalized in the 110th. Kraev scored again in the 112th to put Midtjylland through to the semifinals at Brondby on April 26.
USA Today's Martin Rogers isn't a fan of CONMEBOL's push to expand the World Cup early in 2022. Keir Radnedge on the FIFA politics of World Cup expansion. Pro Soccer Talk's Matt Reed plays with the format for 2018. AP's Leonardo Haberkorn reports that Uruguay may rebuild the Centenario stadium of they get the 2030 World Cup in a joint-bid with Argentina.
The NY Times' Rory Smith profiles Roma's American owner James Pallotta.
The Toronto Sun's Kurtis Larson has the buildup for the Concacaf Champions League final first-leg at BMO Field on Tuesday. ESPN's Tom Marshall has an early preview of the Champions League final series. The Seattle Times' Geoff Bakerwonders why it took the league's disciplinary committee so long to act on Clint Dempsey's red card. The LA Times' Kevin Baxter on which version of LAFC will show against the Whitecaps. MLSsoccer.com's Paul Tenorio reports that Chicago has interest and a claim on Atletico's Fernando Torres. The Salt Lake Tribune's Christopher Kamrani om RSL's Javier Morales calling it a career.
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