Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Europe: Bilbao helpless as Atlético claim second title

Posted in European Football by peterbein on May 10, 2012

UEFA Europa League logoOnly a few years ago could one look at the history books and see that a club as grand in tradition as Atlético de Madrid had only won one European title in their illustrious history. Now, following their second successful UEFA Europa League campaign in three years, the history books are beginning to show the Spanish club in a much more favourable light.

Los Rojiblancos had only claimed a solitary European Cup Winners’ Cup title before 2010 and that triumph had taken place so long ago that there probably aren’t too many people left who remember it too vividly (for the record Atlético beat AC Fiorentina in the 1961-62 competition). In the last three seasons, however, the club’s pedigree has improved with some much-needed silverware making its way to the club. The 2010 UEFA Europa League triumph, in which Atlético scrapped to a 2-1 extra-time win over English club Fulham FC, was bettered last night by a convincing 3-0 defeat of compatriots Athletic Bilbao in the Romanian capital of Bucharest.

Bilbao were featuring in only their second continental final, their first since losing to Italian giants Juventus FC in the 1976-77 UEFA Cup, and had impressed many onlookers on their way to this year’s showpiece with some wonderful attacking football, most notably against Manchester United in the Round of 16 in which the English champions succumbed to a 5-3 aggregate defeat. Players such as Fernando Llorente, Javi Martínez and Iker Muniain, to name but three, had impressed throughout the tournament and one would imagine that their current transfer values are significantly higher now than they would’ve been at the start of the season.

Sadly for the Basques their inexperience on such a big stage proved to be their undoing as Atlético de Madrid, through the wonderful striking prowess of Colombian star Radamel Falcao, began strongly and were two goals to the good after just 34 minutes. Substitute Diego sealed the deal with just five minutes remaining in the second half following a game in which Madrid’s ruthlessness was such that it hardly mattered that Adrián López, who had been the club’s top scorer in the tournament before the final kicked off, failed to add to his tally of eleven goals for the competition. Falcao’s brace took his tally to twelve for this season and an impressive thirty goals in 31 European appearances in the last two years, during which the Colombian had also won the UEFA Europa League trophy with his former club FC Porto in last year’s final.

Atlético de Madrid’s reward for winning the UEFA Europa League is a place in the final of the 2012 UEFA Super Cup against either FC Bayern München or Chelsea FC depending on who wins this year’s UEFA Champions League final a week on Saturday. Athletic Bilbao, on the other hand, do have the consolation of knowing that another cup final awaits for them in two weeks’ time when they face FC Barcelona for the second time in three years in Spain’s premier knockout competition, the Copa del Rey.

UEFA: Barcelona see off Porto to win Super Cup (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 27, 2011

FC Barcelona won the UEFA Super Cup in Monaco last night beating FC Porto by two goals to nil. It is the second trophy already this season for the Catalans who had also won their domestic super cup against Real Madrid less than a fortnight ago.

The spirited Portuguese started the game sharper and had some good early chances against the favourites. However a passback from Fredy Guarín provided Messi with a one-on-one opportunity against Porto keeper Helton and the Argentina superstar, who was awarded UEFA’S Best Player in Europe award at the Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, rounded him with relative ease and squeezed the ball home from an acute angle with six minutes of the first half remaining. New signing Cesc Fabregas sealed the deal in the second half after coming on as a substitute; Lionel Messi looped the ball over to Fabregas who controlled the ball with his chest before firing home with his right foot from close range to secure a 2-0 win and yet another trophy for the Blaugrana.

The win was FC Barcelona’s fourth title in this competition, just one behind record winners AC Milan, and was the sixth time that a Spanish club had won the trophy in the last decade.

UEFA: Barça and Porto get ready for Super Cup battle

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 24, 2011
Atletico Madrid

Who will follow Atlético Madrid as Super Cup winners?

The UEFA Super Cup will be held on Friday night with 2010-11 UEFA Champions League winners FC Barcelona ready to take on the 2010-11 UEFA Europa League holders FC Porto in a massive Iberian derby. These two clubs have been the dominant forces in their respective countries in recent years and both teams are hoping to add yet another trophy to their already bulging trophy cabinets this weekend.

With the most recent Super Cup winners Atlético Madrid ready to relinquish the trophy, which they won in glorious fashion against Internazionale last year, their compatriots FC Barcelona are the favourites to maintain a proud Spanish record in this competition. Since the Super Cup became a one-off fixture in 1998, Spanish clubs have participated in all but five of the thirteen finals and have won five times in the last nine years. FC Porto, however, should not be underestimated as they have started their domestic season in fine form whilst their opponents have yet to kick a ball in La Liga which still remains postponed due to the ongoing dispute between the Association of Spanish Footballers and the Spanish Football League over unpaid player salaries.

FC Barcelona 2010-11 Champions League winners

FC Barcelona won the UEFA Champions League in 2010-11

FC Barcelona won their fourth UEFA Champions League final last season having topped Group D in the league stage – finishing ahead of FC København, Rubin Kazan and Panathinaikos – going on to eliminate Arsenal FC, Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid in the knockout rounds before disposing of Manchester United with a sublime performance in the final at Wembley Stadium which they won 3-1.  This allowed Pep Guardiola’s men to qualify for their eighth Super Cup final in the process. The Blaugrana will, therefore, overtake AC Milan with the most appearances in this competition since its inception in 1972 although the Italians will still be record title holders with five wins even if Barcelona go on to win this weekend.

FC Porto qualified for this Friday’s showpiece match by claiming their second UEFA Europa League (formerly UEFA Cup) title in 2010-11. FC Porto are a team more accustomed to playing regularly in the UEFA Champions League but had to be content with the second-tier tournament following a third place finish in the 2009-10 Portuguese League campaign. The Dragões topped Group L in the league stage – ahead of Beşiktaş, Rapid Wien and CSKA Sofia – before overcoming Sevilla FC, both Moscow clubs CSKA and Spartak and Villarreal CF en route to defeating compatriots Braga who dropped down into the Europa League having finished third in their Champions League group. Radamel Falcao’s goal on the stroke of half-time separated the two finalists in Dublin’s Aviva Stadium and gave Porto coach André Villas-Boas a fantastic send-off as this victory sealed the treble following FC Porto’s domestic league and cup success.

FC Porto 2010-11 UEFA Europa League winners

FC Porto won the UEFA Europa League in 2010-11

FC Barcelona were previously victorious in this competition in the two-legged era with wins over German clubs Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund in 1992 and 1997 respectively whilst their most recent victory came in the famous 2009 success against ambitious Ukrainian outfit Shakhtar Donetsk, the 1-0 win in extra-time helping Barcelona on their way to a famous Sextuple triumph later that year. However they have also lost on four occasions so it is fair to say that the Catalans have had mixed fortunes in this competition. FC Porto will take part in their fourth UEFA Super Cup final and have also experienced the good and the bad in this competition. Following their triumphant appearance in 1987, in which they defeated Ajax Amsterdam 2-0 on aggregate, they lost back-to-back finals in 2003 and 2004 in which they suffered one goal deficits to AC Milan (1-0) and Valencia CF (2-1) respectively. If FC Porto are to break their duck in Monaco’s Stade Louis II then this will arguably be their last real chance to do so as next season’s UEFA Super Cup final will be the last time the fixture will be played there before being moved all around Europe starting with Prague in 2013.

One area where FC Porto will have an advantage over FC Barcelona before Friday’s contest will be in the number of competitive fixtures they have played so far. The Portuguese champions were successful in their domestic super cup (defeating Vitória Guimarães) and have chalked up two wins out of two in the Super Liga whilst Spanish and European champions FC Barcelona have played just two domestic super cup matches against Real Madrid so far with last weekend’s opening La Liga fixture against Malaga CF called off, along with all of the other Matchday 1 league fixtures.

UEFA: Super victory gives Atlético the Cup (+video)

Posted in European Football by peterbein on August 28, 2010
Atlético de Madrid

Atlético de Madrid are the 2010 UEFA Super Cup champions

UEFA Europa League winners Atlético de Madrid claimed their first UEFA Super Cup title last night defeating UEFA Champions League holders FC Internazionale 2-0 in the Stade Louis II, Monaco. Since the game became an annual one-off fixture in 1998 the winners of Europe’s secondary club competition (Cup Winners Cup until 1999; UEFA Cup & Europa League thereafter) have been victorious in this tournament eight times in thirteen matches with Atlético’s triumph meaning that they became the fifth Spanish club to get their hands on the trophy in the last decade following Real Madrid (2002), Valencia CF (2004), Sevilla FC (2006) and FC Barcelona (2009). The defeat for Inter meant that their quest to emulate FC Barcelona’s “sextuple” of 2009 is over although they still have the chance to become Club World Cup champions in Abu Dhabi in December.

Rafael Benítez had begun life as Internazionale coach just seven days earlier by lifting the Italian Super Cup and had ambitions to win the European equivalent for the second time after he was successful in this competition with Liverpool FC in 2005. However Atleti coach Quique Sánchez Flores had other ambitions and wanted to build on his team’s Europa League triumph by winning another piece of silverware to his club’s fanatical supporters who were in much the better voice during the UEFA Super Cup match even before the goals went in. The first half was played at a good pace without many real chances being created although Sergio “Kun” Agüero should’ve had a penalty kick after just six minutes after being brought down in the box by Walter Samuel.

In the second half Inter began to have more possession but didn’t show the necessary desire to do anything with the ball whilst Atlético’s hunger for the win was more obvious and it was they who carved out the chances needed to win the game. In the 62nd minute the deadlock ws broken after José Antonio Reyes’ hard, low shot beat Júlio César to give los Rojiblancos a deserved lead. Atleti doubled the advantage with just seven minutes of the game remaining after the wonderful Simão broke down the left and crossed the ball to gift Agüero a tap-in from a couple of yards out with Inter’s defence remaining static behind him. There was still time for some late drama after Goran Pandev had been brought down in the box in the 88th minute but Inter’s luck had eluded them after David de Gea brilliantly saved Diego Milito’s penalty kick to ensure that the Super Cup would be winging its way to the trophy room at the Estadio Vicente Calderón.

Both teams now get back to business domestically on Monday night with Atlético de Madrid at home to Sporting de Gijón whilst defending Serie A champions Inter face a potentially tough away trip to Bologna, a match which Benítez must win if he is to silence any early-season doubters.