The Winners Circle #1485 (Late)

Eintracht Frankfurt conquer Europe once again

Eintracht Frankfurt had improbable European success this last season that sees them qualify for the champions league for the first time since 1977. Very European Journey through the Europa League was truly a unique campaign that their fans will remember for a long time. It was a difficult season collectively, but their glory in Europe overwhelmingly makes up for it. Eintracht Frankfurt finished fifth in the Bundesliga the season before this campaign largely behind the brilliance of Andre Silva; his 29 goals, along with a Supporting Cast of Dashi Kamada and Filip Kostic, proved to be an Underdog Story in the Bundesliga before this last season. They had control of their destiny, but Wolfsburg grabbed the final Champions League spot in what was an anticlimactic ending for the Eagles. In the summer, they lost Andre Silva; going to Leipzig for 35 million didn’t have an answer at the striker position; they no longer had someone to rely on the score 20 + goals, while Eintracht Frankfurt No Doubt has individual quality it took a toll on the team in the Bundesliga last season. While all the success and then Triumph in the Europa League, they finished 13th in the Bundesliga, nowhere near Europe. Their league positioning somewhat dictates the quality of the teams in German Football, but it still was a disastrous campaign, at least domestically. There was so much importance put on their Journey throughout the Europa League. There was a sense of pressure and Desperation to get the results when it mattered. It was the only pathway for them to go back into Europe. The fear of losing critical pieces was always going to be there but missing out on Europe certainly would have seen Filip Kostic and Dashi Kamada depart at the end of the season. Their battle through the Europa League turned out to be a magical tournament. Eintracht Frankfurt won their group without suffering defeat. They took a very strong and capable Real Betis side out in a very narrow victory seeing them advance to the quarterfinals. The quarter-finals turned out to be one of the most compelling matchups of the Europa League. For the first time in a long time, Barcelona was in the Europa League as many looked at them as potential favourites. A very young, vibrant team is being built in Barcelona. They had a significant advantage in terms of talent. Barcelona would be tough with much more experience in Europe than a Frankfurt team that isn’t a Mainstay in European football. In Germany, they significantly outplayed their Barcelona counterparts in a two-goal draw. In the return leg at the Camp, nou Eintracht Frankfurt overtook Barcelona with the number of fans and supporters at the match, minimising a problematic environment that Barcelona tried to create. The fan support and the quality of play went hand-in-hand as Frankfurt took out Barcelona. The semi-final was a special one against West Ham United. West Ham United have been an improbable European team, and they were nearly relegated not long ago. However, the lack of quality top to bottom in the Premier League has overrated them in Germany; they probably would finish outside of the top 10. I respect their qualities, but there was a significant difference between Eintracht Frankfurt and West Ham United in the semi-final more than everything else was going to justify the quality of Germany. West Ham United we’re outclassed home and away as Eintracht Frankfurt showed the difference in quality as they advanced to the Europa League final. As we saw an incredibly improbable final against Rangers, another team that went against the odds took down Dortmund and RB Leipzig on the way to a final. It was probably the most entertaining European final that we saw this season. A very tight and tense matchup. Although you could argue that Eintracht Frankfurt was the better team on that night, it was by fine margins. Rangers took the lead in the second half before Eintracht Frankfurt found an equaliser. The match was forced to go into extra time; still not finding a winner, it would be decided on penalties. A very entertaining shootout ended with Kevin Trapp making a brilliant save on Aaron Ramsey. Eintracht Frankfurt sank the final penalty of the shootout as Eintracht Frankfurt took the Europa League for the first time since 1980. As huge celebrations erupted as yet another European trophy came back to Germany. As problematic as it was in the League this season, Oliver Glazner won the Europa League without a consistent Striker putting in the goals; the Bundesliga side earned many winnings as Frankfurt has a crucial decision to make in the summer. Should they stick to the team, they have and try to make a run at the Champions League or is it the time to sell some of their assets in hopes of getting a centre-forward that can give them what they were missing this season. It’s not an easy question, but it’s an answer for another day. Eintracht Frankfurt are Europa League champions.

Jose Mourinho ends Roma’s trophy drought

Roma has had cobwebs on the trophy cabinet as it has been so long since they have won anything. The UEFA Europa conference League was an opportunity for Roma and the fans to celebrate something special. It had been 14 years since the fans of Rome had anything to celebrate at all. Special moments no doubt but none of which ended with silverware. Under the new ownership, Roma was aggressive in appointing serial winner Jose Mourinho at the Forefront of this Roma project. Roma had finished seventh place in the league the previous season, and even though they went to the Europa League semi-final, it was a somewhat toxic season. The club at the time needed a sense of direction, someone to get them back into winning things again. Not necessarily having to achieve that, the first season start closing the gap and at least heading in the right direction. Mourinho had to make numerous of tough decisions to get them where he needed to progress the side into a winner. Nothing more challenging than the departure of edin Dzeko, a club Legend having scored the third most goals in club history and someone that had captained the side. Mourinho brought in Tammy Abraham to wear the number 9. He had a nearly Flawless first season in Italian football, scoring 27 goals in all competitions in addition to the 17 he scored in the league. Truly one of the best players of the campaign. Rui Patricio solving goalkeeping issues that Roma have dealt with over the last five years. He is getting his hands on this team and slowly getting the best out of everything surrounding them. Lorenzo Pellegrini Roman born midfielder, took another giant leap in his progression, becoming a top 5 midfielder in the world, in my estimation. Abraham and Lorenzo Pellegrini created a bond. Mourinho instilled the mentality and a winning attitude that this Roma team hasn’t had for years. It was an up-and-down season in the league; they finished sixth but made significant improvements within the team as this Roma side is only trending upwards. In the conference League, Roma had some significant difficulties, the embarrassment of a 6-1 defeat in Norway against Bobo glint. Roma still ended up winning the group before getting through Vitesse getting a grudge match against Bobo glint, this time getting the better of them even though it was a struggle in the quarterfinals until Nicolo zaniolo scored a hat-trick in the second leg to put them through into the semi-final. They took on the Leicester City for a very tough and gruelling 120 Minutes. Still, over the two legs goals from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Tammy Abraham saw Roma hold on to make the final after some defensive brilliance from the Roma backline. Jose Mourinho was on the verge of collecting his fifth European trophy; he had never lost a European final but against the Feynoord, it was a incredibly difficult match in Albania. Nicolo zaniolo takes a beautiful cross from Gianluca Mancini into the back of the net, sticking his foot out at the right time as Roma took a 1-0 lead. They held on for dear life as rui Patricio made two or three saves that made the big difference. It was attacking by the Dutch against a strong Italian defence. They managed to hold on after over 5000 days. Roma won a trophy once again. Such an emotional moment for the city and the fans that had suffered for so long; in 2008, Roman born Francesco Totti takes a trophy back into the city 14 years later, and Lorenzo Pellegrini did the same. This Roma team is only going to get better going into next season. With the additions the club will make in the coming months, it will make this a much more refined and complete Squad that could see this Roma team get back into the champions league and fight for the title and a matter of time. Mourinho made the big difference; without him around, Roma never would have had that moment. Mourinho only enhances his legacy while the giallorossi finally have something to smile about once again.

Real Madrid masters of the trade

The Champions League this season was one of the most climatic dramatic and intriguing campaigns in recent memory; it had absolutely everything. Unpredictability, individual masterclass, historical moments, incredible intrigue and Underdog stories. The build-up to the final and everything that transpired was truly magical has. Real Madrid and Liverpool took the stage; it may not have been the most visually pleasing Champions League final, but it was a Clash of Titans on the final. However, the drama that had to be endured to get here is what made the Champions League this season so exciting. Dortmund and Barcelona were both knocked out in the group stage. The spirit of Villarreal, Ajax and Benfica was masterful. The pathway to the Champions League final was nothing but late drama for Real Madrid. In the round of 16, they went up against PSG, featuring The Almighty Trio of Killian mbappe, Leo Messi and Neymar. Killian mbappe scores a stoppage-time winner in Paris. In the second leg, Killian mbappe scores again, giving PSG a 2-0 lead. However, the mentality of Carlo Ancelotti and Real Madrid came roaring back. Karim Benzema gets a goal back. Before scoring twice in a minute as Real Madrid overturned a 2-0 lead to knock out PSG and their star-studded squad. The defensive errors of Gigi donnarumma truly cost PSG in the end, but they should never have put themselves in that position; they have more Talent and hardly anyone in the world, and they couldn’t coexist against a Real Madrid team that has nowhere near the talent. In the quarterfinals against Chelsea, Karim Benzema scored a hat-trick at Stamford Bridge in a truly Majestic performance in a 3-1 Victory as Kai havertz did manage to score for Chelsea. In the second leg, it was the polar opposite at the Santiago Bernabeu Chelsea ran out to a three-goal lead leaving Real Madrid in the distance. Until Luka Modric supplied a perfect ball to Rodrigo, forcing the match into extra-time. Right on schedule was Karim Benzema again scoring the goal that sent Chelsea crashing out. Karim Benzema scored seven goals in three games. In the semi-final, they played probably arguably the best team in the world in Manchester City. One of the most gripping games of the Champions League season was a seven-goal thriller. Karim Benzema sealed a late penalty to minimize the deficit to just a goal as Vinicius jr and Karim Benzema find a way to keep themselves alive despite the dominance shown by Manchester City. In the first leg of the semi-final, Manchester City held a 2-0 lead, a 3-1 lead and a 4-2 lead and still couldn’t pull themselves away. The winning mentality of Real Madrid always finds a way through; it seems like it’s almost like this competition belongs to them because it does. In the second leg of the semi-final, Riyad mahrez scored to make it a two-goal lead. Going into the 90th minute, then Here Comes Rodrigo scoring in the 90th and the 92nd minute, Manchester City suddenly went from being seconds away from a Champions League final to prepare for extra time. We know the rest of the story. Karim Benzema was taken out in the Box before converting a penalty that sees Manchester City getting knocked out again. With all the money that they have with all the talent that they have, they always seemed to collapse in these moments; the resistance of Real Madrid wasn’t going to be denied the winning mentality all Real Madrid and Carlo Ancelotti come closer to history getting his team to the Champions League final. Carlo Ancelotti is already a three-time Champions League winner as manager and one of the champions league as a coach. We remember those AC Milan teams that dominated Europe; he was certainly a part of that, putting him in a very exclusive class if he were to win the final. The nature of never giving up proves to be comeback Kings Real Madrid 13 time winners for a reason. Liverpool may not have had as dramatic circumstances that got them into the final but benefited from certain situations. Liverpool was beaten at Anfield but went through against Inter Milan with a 2-1 victory over the two legs. They were tested against Benfica, becoming a lot closer than many people realised it would be. As they won 8-6 on aggregate. They benefited from avoiding Bayern Munich Villarreal did The Impossible, beating arguably the best team in the world, at least the team with the best starting lineup. After Robert Lewandowski is equalised, they scored in the final seconds of stoppage time to send the Bavarians home. The exclusion of Bayern Munich could have played a very significant role in Liverpool making the Champions League final. However, Villarreal was not to be underestimated. Liverpool had a 2-0 lead, and then, all of a sudden, in the second leg, Villarreal got it back quickly. Liverpool eventually pulled away to make the final, but it was a test they battled and persevered through. Setting the stage for the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. A truly incredible side that Jurgen Klopp has built, this is their fourth European final under his regime and his third in the Champions League, having won against Spurs in 2019 and lost against You Guessed It Real Madrid in 2018. There was no question that Liverpool has the better team as good as Real Madrid is; they don’t quite have Jurgen Klopp’s team in Liverpool. However, Mohamed Salah made a very grave mistake. Claiming this Champions League final was going to be a plot of Revenge, saying they had a score to settle. A complete lack of self-awareness from Mohamed Salah, knowing that Real Madrid will use it as motivation. First things first, at no point was this Champions League final ever going to be about revenge because Revenge is no longer available. Last season they played in the Champions League quarter-finals and lost to Real Madrid. Once the final whistle goes off in that game, revenge is no longer valid. When you lose a Champions League final, and you face them off a second time, that is Revenge; once you’re beaten, a second-time Revenge doesn’t exist anymore. A few years ago, Andrew Robertson gave bulletin board material to Diego Simeone Liverpool got punked at Anfield. It is generally not a good idea to give any motivation or extra bulletin board material to the opposition. Liverpool dominated the Champions League final but couldn’t break through the performances of Courtois was truly masterful. Karim Benzema got a goal ruled out at the end of the first half, and then before you know it, Luka Modric to Federico Valverde cross into the box right there for Vinicius jr. To stick it into the back of the net, giving Real Madrid a 1-0 lead. Trent Alexander Arnold defensively exposed on the goal allowing the versatile Brazilian to sneak right by him and score what would be the game-winning goal. Real Madrid winning the Champions League for the 14th time is truly tremendous. Enhancing the legacies of Luka Modric Karim Benzema, and Toni Kroos as they have won two La Liga titles and now a Champions League without Cristiano Ronaldo. As they extend their lead for the most Champions League wins. Real Madrid has 14, and now AC Milan has seven. Liverpool has one of the best teams globally and has been so dominant during the European Club era, but this season they had three finals and scored zero goals. With the departure of sadio Mane, there is a suggestion that this could be the beginning of the end? Liverpool still has the quality to continue to win, but they’ve seemed to come up short in European finals; this is their third loss in four finals. There are still plenty of reasons to be optimistic surrounding this Liverpool team, and they can still go on to win things. Still, with erling haaland now at Manchester City and with Real Madrid winning the Champions League again, it’s going to become even more difficult to win the big one. In the end, I think it comes back to Mohamed Salah and the comments he made. Courtois might have had a game of his life, but why did he have a game of his life? It’s possible he wanted to stick it to the English fans that don’t give him enough respect but also, the comments the Mohamed Salah made certainly could have motivated the Real Madrid keeper to have the game that he did. You never talk before a big final like this; it has been proven time and time again that Mohamed Salah is one of the best players in the world and had an incredible season but he should have kept his head down instead of opening his mouth. Carlo Ancelotti, a Champions League winner for the fifth time, put him in a very serious conversation for the greatest manager ever. It wasn’t the most entertaining Champions League final but to see Real Madrid win the Champions League without Cristiano Ronaldo adds to the legacy of this great Club. Real Madrid owns this competition; Real Madrid is greatness on arguably one of the most difficult Pathways to the trophy; they came back from the dead against Chelsea, PSG and Man City with an ageing Squad that just had the winning mentality not to be denied and when once again they truly are the masters of the trade.

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