Although the matches that happen today might see Madrid march on and BVB end Malaga’s Cinderella run, the Champions League matches from yesterday have left no doubt that Bayern Munich is now the favorite to make it back into the Champions League final and seems the likeliest team to emerge victorious. A 2-0 victory by the soon-to-be German champions against Italian giants Juventus was impressive enough, but the fact that Barcelona stooped to a 2-2 draw against PSG translates into the Bayern club becoming the Champions League favorite.
Although this writer proclaimed the Munich club to be the favorite from the beginning of the competition, a recent stumble against Arsenal had many jumping off the Bayern bandwagon. Despite dismantling the London club when they visited Munich’s home fortress, Arsenal made it a very interesting affair when Munich played the second leg at the Emirates. Then, as if in response to that stumble, Munich went out and made Juventus look second-rate.
Although a second leg will have to be taken into account, Munich seems to be one of the strongest in every area of the pitch of the teams remaining. Barcelona has an immaculate attack force but their defense is typically poor, Madrid can’t seem to string two positive results together, BVB has a questionable midfield, and Juve has already fallen prey to the Bayern machine. Bayern has one of the best defenses in the world, their midfield is filled with international powerhouse players, and their attack is as deep as any other club in the world, making them the deadliest team remaining in the competition.
Remember, Juve knocked out last season’s champions Chelsea and they have looked very impressive throughout the Champions League campaign. PSG looked like they deserved to be on the field with Barcelona, but Munich makes teams look like they have no right to be a part of any competition that Bayern is involved in (including Juventus).
If Ribery, Schweinsteiger, Neur, and Lahm are involved, the German giants have to be considered as the favorite against any other club. Lahm has shown that he is the best outside defender on the planet and Schweinsteiger can control the pace of any match that he is involved with. If any of these players accrue yellow cards or injuries, the tide may turn, but until that happens then it seems that no one should really have a chance against Bayern. If they aren’t already the heavy favorites for most betting companies, then they need to be.
Written by: Andrew McCole, contirbutor, soccerprose.com
Adidas have just released more apparel for all your Galalcticos fans out there and we’ve been lucky enough to get first hand look at one piece of it, the Real Madrid Anthem jacket. Now this jacket is inspired by the colors and designs that are important to the club and its history, namely, white and light blue. And that what really sets this jacket apart from you typical Real Madrid jersey, its bright blue with with a navy band across the chest and white shoulder stripes. For my part, I love the look of this jacket. The navy strip across the center of the chest on this jacket really makes the look of the piece. It sets off the lighter, shimmering blue on the rest of the coat, and with the thin white stripe running through the center it really brings things to life.
The white adidas stripes running down the shoulders and sleeves also look gorgeous, and give this jacket an authentic feel. However, what really makes it a Real Madrid jacket is the embroidered crest on the left breast. It doesn’t get lost against the lighter blue background, and combined with the v-neck style collar makes this a fashionable bit of kit you wear out to the pubs or around the town.
The jacket itself is made out of polyester, so don;t get near any open flames, and will keep out the wind fairly well but will not protect you from rain or a truly wintery chill. Other than that, it fits true to size, so if you own a medium jersey, you’ll need a medium jacket, and they run $76 to $84 dollars depending on where you shop for them.
The Japanese are known for inventing and loving wild and zany sports, but they may build a bridge too far with their latest creation, binocular soccer.
Nike have just released the new Nike Mercurial Vapor IX and my god do they look stunning. Despite the fact several top players like Neymar, Ronaldo, Kevin Prince-Boateng, EL Shaarawy, and several others have gone ahead and ignored the rules to release their own pairs the new Nike Mercurial Vapor IX on Twitter. That said, these soccer shoes are chocked full of brand new technology that bears a closer look.
The upper on the Nike Mercurial Vapor IX has been engineered to be the thinnest and softest synthetic leather ever made, and I have to say after trying them out the fit is pretty good. The upper is one piece of Teijin synthetic, stitched together at the back, and really forms to fit your foot the minute you get it on. This means you won’t have a lot of break in time with these, and like the previous version, they’re ready to wear right out of the box. The upper will also hold its shape, so you won;t have to keep wearing them to keep a good fit. These shoes are a match day boot, not something for practice, and for that reason I really like this feature. These Nike boots also integrate the new All Conditions Control (ACC) wet-dry play technology. This outer coating on the upper allows you to get a dry touch on the ball regardless of conditions. It works just like Scotch Guard on a pair of suede shoes in that it totally repels water off of it. Its a very useful bit of tech, especially if you live somewhere other than the desert.
As for the rest of the boot, the insole is perforated to wick away any moisture, and offers decent comfort. One caveat, if you have a high arch or flat feet and need to use special insoles when you play, make sure you get a half-size larger than what you’d normally get to be sure you have enough room, and be prepared to cut the insoles down to fit the toebox. The cleat pattern on the bottom these soccer shoes is more or less the same as the one found on the bottom of the previous Vapor VIII and works just fine. It lets gets a good grip on the ground and you won’t feel any painful pressure from the cleats. The two rear cleats are also reinforced with a TPU injection and the frame they are attached to is made from the same Pebax Renu material that was one the bottom of the pioneering Green Speed (GS) soccer cleats.
Other than that, these are comfortable and lightweight pair of soccer cleats and the color looks absolutely stunning. For those two reasons I’d highly recommend them to any player who wants professional level performance on the pitch, and let everyone see them coming.
Written by: Matthew Wall, editor, soccerprose.com
With the recent passing of the 2012 College Cup, we now have to pass judgment on how the NCAA handled their premier soccer event. We definitely do not want to take anything away from the teams that competed in the Cup, and we would like to congratulate Indiana on being the best team in College soccer in 2012.
First, we have to discuss whether the playoff picture provides for the best tournament picture. Although we love seeing Cinderella teams like Creighton in the final four, the competition that we saw in the last three games of the season worried some that we were risking having some of the more talented teams get knocked out too early. The only game in the entire weekend worth watching was the fantastic semi-final between Maryland (a top ranked team) and Georgetown (a top ranked team). Perhaps we should limit the tournament to legitimate title contenders and move farther away from a “March Madness” type set-up. If only 8 or 16 team got in, the talent level should be quite high across the board and the tournament would be short enough for the teams to maintain a high level of competition throughout.
Secondly, the NCAA really needs to rethink the location of the College Cup. Sure, Alabama needs a “shot-in-the-arm” in terms of soccer team growth and placing the Cup in Hoover, AL seems to have been an intelligent move. However, with the change of venue to Philadelphia, the mindset of the NCAA has to be questioned. The fans will be there, and the facilities will definitely be available- but, will any non die-hard fans be willing to travel to a freezing cold venue (the Cup takes place in December)? Also, Philly is the home of several professional sports teams that will be moving through their seasons during the weekend of the College Cup. If the Eagles, 76ers, and Flyers all have home games that lie close to the Cup, it will take away from possible attendees and also will create a travel/lodging nightmare for anyone attempting to make the trip to the Cup. Although Alabama may not be the best venue, it allowed the Cup to stand alone and it provided one of the warmest possible places to attempt to have a sporting event in December.
To wrap this up, the NCAA need to see the potential to profit from the nation’s fastest growing game. They have created impossible conditions for writers like myself to get press access, they have limited themselves by showing their most important games on a channel that many homes in America do not have (ESPNU), and the atmosphere that was created outside of the College Cup this year was only positive because of booths that Wilson sports had set up. If the NCAA continues to ignore the growth and the possibilities that College soccer holds, they may end up killing a game to the point where prospective players and fans start to avoid it all-together. After all, MLS games are more exciting and even semi-pro players can become more successful than the typical college player.
Written by: Andrew McCole, writer, soccerprose.com
Silves FC, a small semi-pro side in Portugal, will be in need a new ground and a cash infusion after a tornado annihilated their stadium in under a minute. You can see the destruction in real time in the video below, shot by some enterprising, in my opinion extremely stupid, man who seems to be enjoying a sandwiches as he watches the wrath of God being unleashed on the place. Its shocking footage, and not for the faint of heart, but rest assured its not gory and its honestly impressive to see the roof peeled off the grandstand like a can of sardines.
As always, Soccerprose.com recommends you stay inside during a tornado, and not film it sitting next to the bloody window as you may get speared by flying bits of your clubs stadium. But if for some reason you find yourself with similar footage, feel free to send it along.
Group B has three teams separated by only a few points. Schalke 04 leads the group with eight points, Arsenal is second with seven points, and Olympiakos has six points. This should make for an exciting finish for this group. If Arsenal fails to reach the knockout stages, Arsene Wenger will be feeling pressure, especially with their poor performance in the Premier League at this point.
Group D is another interesting group. Borussia Dortmund leads this group with eight points. Real Madrid sits only one point behind Dortmund. Ajax is in third with four points and Manchester City are currently last in the group with only two points from four games. Manchester City still claim they have a chance of advancing, however it does not look promising. City face Dortmund and Real Madrid in their final two games of the group stage. Real Madrid is looking to be crowned champions of Europe this season, which is one of the reasons Real Madrid brought Jose Mourinho in, so they will have to focus and make sure not to slip up in their final two group stage games if they want to advance.
The final group to watch as the group stage is coming to an end is Group E. This group features the Champions League holders and the top three teams are all extremely close. Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk are both tied at seven points, while Juventus sit one point behind with six points. Juventus must play both Chelsea and Shakhtar in their final two games, which will be interesting and exciting to watch. (Nerve-wrecking as well if you are a supporter of these teams.)
The Champions League always provides great entertainment, which is what you would expect when the top teams from around the world compete against each other. At this point, there is only one team that has run away with their group and that is Manchester United. (However, United’s group was not a terribly hard group to be a part of, unlike Group D.) These final games will be very exciting as some teams, like Manchester City, play for their Champions League lives, and others battle to see who will win their group. It is sure to be a great ending to a close group stage before we get to the knockout stages!
Written By: Eric Stoyanov, Contributing Writer, soccerprose.com
Nike have released the latest version of their Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Mercurial Vapors and they are the best looking pair yet. The black synthetic leather upper on these cleats has pink and blue band running around the base of it as it meet the sole plate which the pick color continues on to. They also feature the new CR7 logo on the heel in gold along with the decals and trim you’d expect to find on any Nike limited edition product. This upper is made form the same Teijin synthetics Nike been using on all the Vapor VIII’s and they seem to have really cracked the synthetic shoe formula with it. Its as soft and malleable as a kangaroo leather pair of soccer boots and will mold to your foot right out of the box making the painful break of time previous versions of the Mercurial Vapor a thing of the past.
The boots also feature the latest in Nike technology, an All Conditions Control(ACC) treated upper. ACC will allow these boots to perform the same in the wet as they do in try conditions, particularly when playing will one of the newer synthetic soccer balls. The boots are, at the root, treated with a hydrophobic compound that means water can’t stick to the surface of them. So, even if you were to dunk the upper in water, it will all run right off it like the surface of the rain jacket. This isn’t to say the inside or the sockliner won’t get wet, but at least you won’t lose any performance.
The cleat pattern on the bottom of these soccer cleats are geared toward giving a player the ability to burst forward and score goals. You’ve got four cleats on the forefoot to give you all the bite you can get when you are taking off on the run and want to keep moving forward. The two rear cleats are there for stability, and get the job done, but do keep in mind these shoes are built for the rough and tumble of defending, and are probably best used by a striker or winger.
Overall, these are sharp looking pair of cleat worthy of one of the world greatest soccer players and are extremely limited, so be sure you pick yours up sooner rather than later by clicking this link for our favorite sponsor, SoccerPro.com