Atleti’s Adventure Ends - AFR Voice Ep. 42

And… breathe out. The whole world was treated to an exhausting but fascinating Champions League final at the weekend. The praise, press and acclaim has inevitably swamped victors Real Madrid, but what about Atletico? With their amazing adventure finally hitting the buffers, the La Liga winners find themselves at a cross-roads. AFR and Bleacher Report writer Anthony Lopopolo joins us to examine why Atletico fell just short and help identify the major obstacles to another year of unprecedented Simeone-fuelled success.

Anthony also provides analysis on the shocking news that new all-time leading MLS goalscorer Landon Donovan has been left out of the USMNT’s trimmed-down roster. Is there any method in Klinsmann’s apparent madness?

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Against All Odds: Atleti in the Camp Nou

Anthony Lopopolo was at the Camp Nou, camera in hand, to capture some of the scenes over the weekend.

A few seconds after Alexis Sanchez scored that first goal for Barcelona, an Atletico Madrid fan tucked underneath an overhang in Camp Nou held his head in his hands and couldn’t control the tears. He thought it was over.

Both Diego Costa and Arda Turan had gone off with injuries. It looked like Atletico were going to lose the league in the final game at Camp Nou. Then Diego Godin scored off a header, and the fan leapt. He was leading chants the rest of the game, a small section of Atletico supporters in the bottom corner of the stadium.

After the final whistle, signaling a the title-clinching draw for Atletico, a Barca fan turned around and shook his rival’s hands. Those remaining applauded Atletico. They know what it takes to win.

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United Rebuild - AFR Voice Ep. 38

On last week’s show the rumours of David Moyes’ departure from Manchester United were building dramatically. Seven days on and the Premier League Champions (at least for a few more weeks) have undergone some seismic changes. We speak to ESPN FC journalist and self-confessed United fan Mark Lomas to get his opinion on the rather ungraceful sacking of Moyes, the very romantic appointment of Ryan Giggs as caretaker manager and the very entertaining prospect of Louis van Gaal taking over next season.

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Everyone’s Second Team: Why Atletico Madrid Deserve Our Support

By Caleb Cousens

This year we have been lucky enough to witness a season of special moments thanks to the exploits of Atletico Madrid and Liverpool FC. Neither team were taken seriously at the start of the season, yet both have rocketed to the top of their respective domestic leagues playing their own unique brands of football. I will let someone else wax eloquent about Brendan Rogers and the Anfield faithful, for now let’s head to the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

This is the year of the underdog, and as such, it’s not a bad time to get behind Diego Simeone’s swashbuckling side that has been kicking ass and taking names. Atleti have shattered the illusion of La Liga’s duopoly, beginning with a Copa del Rey at the end of last season that set the tone for what would come. It was the first time that the lesser known Madrid side had beaten the big white machine in 25 matches spanning 14 years. They started this season as they finished, by beating Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, and have proceeded to remain undefeated against Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in La Liga this entire year.

In the Champions League their success seems even less likely. Atletico Madrid have one of the smallest squads in Europe, but have managed to thrive both domestically and in Europe, beating the crème of the crop from Russia, Portugal, Italy and Spain on their way to the Semi-Finals.

That said, why should you support Atletico Madrid?

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Scythe Matters - AFR Voice Ep.37

Well, it’s been an interesting Easter weekend for David Moyes. First he was stared down by the Grim Reaper at Goodison Park, and now his sacking is confirmed. We’ll be taking a look at what’s gone wrong for the Scotsman, and who the Red Devils can turn to next.

Elsewhere in England, it’s been a big weekend for the Liverpool winning machine which took another big step towards the title, beating Norwich as Chelsea lost a home league game under Jose Mourinho for the first time in 77 games. But what will the ramifications of that result be at both the top and bottom of the table?

Then it’s off to the Continent where Chelsea will have to forget about the weekend very quickly, as they take on Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals. We’ll be previewing this game, as well as another huge one across town when Real Madrid take on Bayern Munich in the other last four tie a day later. Strap yourselves in: it’s definitely business time.

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Bad Kompany - AFR Voice Ep. 36

On this week’s show we’ll be taking a look at what could be a season-defining win for Liverpool, after they came out on top of a 3-2 Anfield thriller against Man City. Can they really win fourteen games in a row and take the league title, should an unfit Vincent Kompany have played, and what will Fergie make of all this as he sits in the Old Trafford Directors’ box?

Then it’s off to the home of this season’s surprise package in Europe – the Vicente Calderón. After booking their place in the Champions League semi-finals at Barcelona’s expense, we’ll be discussing Atlético Madrid’s modestly assembled squad, a manager that is quickly becoming one of the most highly regarded on the continent, and the use of some cutting edge technology on the touchline (although we’re not quite sure what they’re using it for, just yet).

Elsewhere, we jet off to the end of regular season play in A-League, and catch up with good friend of the show Ahmed Yussuf, who unleashes his inner Craig David to fill us in on the runners and riders in the Finals Series playoffs; as well as giving us all a lesson in geography, timezones and logistics by showing a detailed knowledge of how on earth the Asian Champions League actually works.

Then we head over to Brazil, where it’s been a bit of an up and down time for everyone’s favourite left footed powerhouse – Adriano. It looks like even scoring in the Copa Libertadores isn’t quite enough to keep your job these days…

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First Aid Football - AFR Voice Ep. 35

This week, we look at some of the most important medical matters in the game. Ben gets to grips with first aid training specifically for the football environment, and interviews the professional instructor behind a course aimed at grass-roots player. We also report on the latest study that reveals the significant problem of depression and alcohol abuse that torments an increasing proportion of football players, both current and recently retired.

On the pitch itself, we lick our lips at some very enticing Champions League quarter-final ties, asking whether Manchester United’s ‘backs-against-the-wall’ approach plays to David Moyes’ managerial strengths, how Chelsea can replicate their 2012 heroics to stage another miracle recovery, and why two thirds of the pod fancy Atlético Madrid to just edge out Barcelona at the Calderón.

In the domestic leagues we cast our eye over the latest Premier League sacking – that of Chris Hughton at Norwich City. Is the late change fully justified or is simply closing the stable door after the horse has bolted? Meanwhile across the Atlantic, we gawp and gasp at an incredible first instalment of this season’s Cascadia Cup – a chance to admire Clint Dempsey’s goal splurge and - thanks to Eric Beard's #whereisfootball Instagram snap - inadvertently discover some sensational Portland Timbers merch.

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Anfield of Dreams - AFR Voice Ep. 34

The clocks have gone forward in Europe and it can only mean one thing – in leagues across the continent, it’s business time. In England, the surprise package of the season Liverpool are now riding high at the top of the league with goals flying in from all angles, while in Spain Atletico Madrid find themselves in the peculiar position of being third favourites to take the crown despite currently being a point clear at the top of the table.

Elsewhere, MLS is now in full swing. The Honeymoon might just be over for Toronto FC, but it just keeps on going for the Columbus Crew, and there’s also a new franchise owner who’s been trying to lure a certain Brazilian across the pond via a contract clause and… social media.

If you thought things were warming up in Europe, then they’re about to hit boiling point in Australia where the play-offs are almost upon us. We’ll be discussing the possibility of a shootout between two A-League heavyweights – Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey, as well as looking at the career of Harry Kewell, who’s just hung up his boots.

And then there’s the small matter of a brand new European international tournament to fill the void that often appears during a year that ends in an odd number. Could UEFA’s League of Nations be a masterstroke by Michel Platini, or a very complicated way to expel the meaningless friendly from the international arena?

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Simeone’s Dream, by Oscar Llorens[[MORE]]
Since walking through the flashes into the press conference at the Vicente Calderon in December 2011, Diego Pablo Simeone has constantly set off fireworks with Atletico Madrid as they began conquering trophies both domestically and on the European stage. This too meant that visits to the Fuente de Neptuno in an open bus with the team became far more frequent than they were before.
This season is Simeone’s first in the Champions League where they now meet AC Milan at the San Siro for the first leg of their last 16 match. How far will their dream take them?
Check out more of Oscar’s work on his Facebook Page or Tumblr. You can also follow him on Twitter @ollorens1. [Posted by Dom]

Simeone’s Dream, by Oscar Llorens

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