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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Carlo Ancelotti: Cool in the hottest of moments

By Anthony Lopopolo

On the margins of a blank piece of paper, he would scribble in his starters. He would fill the rest of the page with points about the defence and attack: to maintain possession, to play two-touch football, to bide your time. And he would make copies and hand them out to his players before matches.

Carlo Ancelotti writes all of his notes by hand. He writes in ink. He always wanted to make that human connection. “You can’t write a love letter on a computer,” he writes in his book, The Beautiful Games of an Ordinary Genius. You could say Ancelotti is a bit of a romantic.

Communication is the most important thing. He wants everyone’s opinions. If one of his players is upset, Ancelotti hears them out. He prefers talking to his team instead of shouting; listening instead of ignoring, even when he knows he is right. 

“For me,” says the 54-year-old, coach of Real Madrid, “it’s managing people. Managing Ronaldo is the same for me as managing Carvajal or Morata.”

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Three Times and An Old Lady - AFR Voice Ep. 39

They’ve done it again. For the third year running the Scudetto will be sitting pretty in Juventus’ trophy cabinet after they took the title at the weekend without even having to kick a ball. On the show this week we take a look at what’s been another superb domestic season for the Old Lady, as well as trouble at the Coppa Italia final, a certain aging striker who might just find himself sneaking onto the plane to Brazil this Summer, and a 24 goal thriller in Serie D. And no, you didn’t read that wrong – 24 GOALS.

Things may be wrapped up in Italy, but the opposite can be said of La Liga. After a weekend when neither Barcelona, Atlético or Real Madrid managed to notch up a win the three-way title race continues to be wide open with only one thing now clear – it will be going down to the final day. So why not join us and get bogged down in the seemingly infinite potential outcomes involved in what’s going to be a truly great run-in for fans of permutations and confusing head-to-head records.

If that sounds a bit much, then things are a bit simpler in the Premier League where we cast a keen eye on a Man City side edging ever closer to the title, Chelsea running out of steam, and plenty of drama at the bottom of the table both on and off the pitch.

Away from Europe, we’ll head Down Under where a new A-League champion has been crowned after this weekend’s Grand Final between Brisbane Roar and Western Sydney Wanderers. Hear us talk through the game, as well as discuss why there could be a strong Aussie showing in next year’s Asian Champions League, and how the league moving away from big name players isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

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Discovering Lisbon: From Portuguese culture to Cristiano Ronaldo

For a nation with just over 10 million people, the whole world of football seems to be watching Portugal. From the best player in the world striking the back of the net on a weekly basis to Benfica in the Europa League final to Lisboa hosting the Champions League final, the whole country seems to be soaking in the attention ahead of the World Cup.

To join the celebration, our good friend Jimmy Conrad and the KICKTV crew took to Lisbon. Our very own Dominic Vieira, unofficial ambassador of Portuguese football, gave them a proper tour of the place he calls home, showed them around the city’s two biggest clubs.

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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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Words Unsaid: Looking at the Europa League Theme

By David Rudin

At some point in the early 1990s, back when wins at the World Cup were still worth two points, goalkeepers were still allowed to handle back passes, and UEFA was still headquartered in a squat concrete complex on Bern’s Jupiterstrasse, the powers that be in European football gathered together and decided that a footballing competition wasn’t really a footballing competition without an anthem. 

For the Champions League’s 1992 debut, UEFA therefore commissioned Tony Britten to pen its anthem. The English composer set the French, German, and English words for “champions” to the tune of Handel’s “Zadok the Priest.” This grandiose mélange was then recorded by London’s Philharmonic Orchestra and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields Chorus. Thus, “Champions League” was born.

Like a national anthem, “Champions League” is more flattering than honest. It sidesteps the competition’s lack of history with a score that predates the invention of association football by 140 years. Lyrics like “The best teams/The Champions” gloss over the inclusion of multiple entrants per nation. The London Philharmonic Orchestra’s cultural cachet helps to mitigate UEFA’s crass commercialism. Tony Britten’s anthem is UEFA’s description of the Champions League: prestigious, rich in history, and exclusive.

The Europa League is a footballing competition and, as a footballing competition, it must have an anthem. 

But how do you describe the Europa League?

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