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Champions League Final Preview

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The 2021/22 Champions League final is fast approaching, as Liverpool and Real Madrid are set to trade tackles at the Stade de France in Paris on May 28.

Europe’s elite club competition is reaching its climax, with the Reds looking to inflict revenge on Los Blancos following an unfathomable 3-1 defeat in the Kyiv showpiece in 2018.

These are two of the most successful clubs in European football, with Liverpool winning the premier European competition six times while Madrid have lifted the trophy a staggering 13 times.

As such, and given both teams’ global popularity, this game is likely to be one of the most-watched Champions League finals of all time, and this list of sites on TheSportsToday is an ideal starting point for you to find the best sports streaming site for you to watch this game as well as any other sporting event.

Let’s see how the Champions League finalists booked their tickets to Paris.

Liverpool’s Road to The Final

Source: thisisanfield.com

Liverpool enjoyed a stellar Champions League Group B campaign in the autumn, finishing top of the section with all six victories and an eye-catching +11 goal difference.

Jurgen Klopp’s men left the likes of Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Porto in their wake en route to securing a fifth successive progression into the competition’s knock-out phase.

The Reds scored two or more goals in all six group fixtures, averaging 2.83 per game during an utterly impressive march into the elimination stages.

Reigning Serie A champions Inter Milan were first to fall victims to Liverpool’s sublime form in 2022.

The Merseyside powerhouse cruised to a 2-0 triumph at Giuseppe Meazza in the first leg of their last-16 tie before slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Anfield in the return fixture.

Benfica, who finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in Group E, were no match for the quadruple-bidding Reds in the quarter-finals.

Liverpool pulled off an overwhelming 3-1 first-leg win in London and moved on to entertain the Anfield crowd with an action-packed 3-3 draw in the second leg.

Semi-Final Drama

Champions League surprise package Villarreal hoped to maintain their European dream and break into their first-ever grand final, but Klopp’s side had none of that.

Pervis Estupinan’s unfortunate own goal and Sadio Mane’s follow-up catapulted the Premier League giants to a well-deserved 2-0 first-leg win in England.

Unai Emery’s team came nowhere near Alisson’s goal on Merseyside, making everyone believe in Liverpool’s routine qualification for a third Champions League final in five years.

However, Villarreal’s sensational first-half showing at La Ceramica helped the Spaniards haul back a two-goal deficit before half-time and cast doubt on Liverpool’s showpiece credentials.

Klopp’s men looked tired and toothless in the final third, but Luis Diaz’s introduction at half-time completely changed the dinamics of the game, swaying it in the visitors’ way.

Fabinho paved the way for Liverpool’s jaw-dropping comeback midway through the second half before Diaz and Mane completed the turnaround, sending the Reds straight to Paris.

Real Madrid’s Road to The Final

Source: uefa.com

Madrid claimed a comfortable top-table finish in Group D, leaving second-placed Inter five points behind, with Sheriff Tiraspol and Shakhtar Donetsk occupying the bottom two.

Despite winning five of their six group outings, a shocking 2-1 home defeat to Moldovan minnows Sheriff on Matchday 2 left a bitter taste in Los Blancos’ mouths.

Carlo Ancelotti’s men then headed into their round-of-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain as outsiders to make it to the Champions League quarter-finals for the second season running.

Kylian Mbappe’s last-gasp first-leg winner at the Parc des Princes fuelled Madrid’s fears of enduring another lackustre European campaign, but the tie took a sensational twist at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Mbappe fired PSG in front on the stroke of half-time to further dent Madrid’s progression hopes, yet Karim Benzema’s second-half masterclass turned the tie on its head.

The current Champions League top-scorer notched up an epic second-half hat-trick to take Los Merengues into an enthralling quarter-final tie against Chelsea.

Benzema picked up where he left off against PSG, hitting another hat-trick at Stamford Bridge as Madrid came out 3-1 victors in the first leg.

Thomas Tuchel’s side came close to staging a second-leg comeback, with Mason Mount, Antonio Rudiger and Timo Werner securing a 3-1 win in regulation time for the Blues.

However, Benzema, who has soaked up the limelight as this season’s Champions League standout performer, showed up again to rescue Ancelotti’s skin.

The Frenchman’s extra-time winner ensured Madrid’s 5-4 aggregate triumph, setting up an iconic semi-final showdown against Manchester City.

Epic Semi-Final Comeback

Madrid succumbed to a goal-friendly 4-3 first-leg loss at the Etihad Stadium, though it is fair to say they could have ended up suffering a heavier defeat.

Wasted scoring opportunities in England came back to haunt Pep Guardiola’s side in Spain, even though the Cityzens were a few minutes away for reaching back-to-back Champions League finals.

When Riyad Mahrez slotted home a devastating effort from inside the box in the 73rd minute, not even the most die-hard Los Merengues’ fans had any realistic hopes of another turnaround.

But second-half substitute Rodrygo came up huge to take the tie to extra-time.

The Brazilian winger drew Madrid level in the 90th minute and went on to bring the aggregate scoreline back to square one only 60 seconds later.

Benzema made sure to shatter Cristiano Ronaldo’s record for a number of goals scored in a single Champions League season (17) by converting an extra-time penalty.

Inspired by the talismanic veteran forward, Madrid have reached a record-extending 17th Champions League final.

Champions League Final Preview

Liverpool

Source: dailyrecord.co.uk

The Paris showpiece could be a history-defining fixture for Liverpool.

The Reds, who already have the EFL Cup trophy under their belt, are bidding to become the first Premier League side to claim a coveted quadruple.

Klopp’s men are going toe-to-toe with Man City in the Premier League title race, while they are set to encounter Chelsea in the FA Cup final on May 14.

Each of Liverpool’s four remaining league fixtures will be ‘make or break’ contests, which will ultimately serve to either build or crush their confidence ahead of the Champions League grand final.

Liverpool have been nothing short of impressive this calendar year, and it is hard to put it past them to achieve an unprecedented feat in English football’s history.

Excluding a Inter’s futile last-16 win at Anfield, the Merseysiders are unbeaten in all of their remaining 28 competitive matches in 2022 (W24, D4).

 

Real Madrid

Source: theguardian.com

Los Merengues have found their La Liga campaign a stroll, dethroning cross-town rivals with four games to spare.

After cruising to a record-extending 35th league title, the Spaniards will have plenty of time to rest and prepare themselves for the upcoming showdown against Liverpool.

Madrid’s ageing squad led many to believe the old guns, including Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, would run out of steam this late in the season, but Ancelotti’s men have defied their doubters.

Not many teams in European football are superior to Los Blancos’ stalwarts in high-stake moments, and Ancelotti’s veterans will be out to silence the skeptics in Paris.

The record-time European champions have lost just three of their 16 Champions League finals and it is virtually impossible to write them off before the kick-off.

Liverpool vs Real Madrid Prediction

A piece of history is up for grabs as Mohamed Salah and co look to complete a stunning season on a high.

However, we back Benzema and his comrades to throw a spanner in the works and take home another piece of European silverware.

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Lightning exposing Panthers’ lack of playoff experience with series sweep in sight

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It’s the National Hockey League’s regular-season champions versus the Stanley Cup champions, and it’s not even close. Playoff hockey wins every time.

After winning 58 games in the regular season, the Florida Panthers lost their third straight to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday and are another loss away from being swept by their less-skilled but more-capable rivals in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Even after the mystifying Panthers’ power play finally manufactured its first playoff goal in the opening period, it was the Lightning’s penalty killing, as well as Tampa’s experience, guile and intensity, that was a key factor in a 5-1 victory in Game 3.

Game 4 is Monday evening in Tampa with puck drop at 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

Through three games and an aggregate score of 11-3, the Lightning have exposed the Panthers’ playoff inexperience and inability to match Tampa’s battle level.

“They’re Stanley Cup champions and the best team in hockey probably over the last five years, so they know what they’re doing and they are willing themselves,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said of the Lightning. “They have more will and more desire than we do. It shows probably, if you watch the game, shift after shift right now. We have to find a way. We need to dial it in deeper and harder and want it more.”

Later in his media conference, Brunette added: “They’ve just got a little more will. When there’s a loose puck, they’re kind of outbattling us. They want it a little bit more. They’re small margins, but they’re still margins. And small margins over a course of 60-minute game makes a little bit of a bigger margin. We have to find a way to be above the margins, not behind.”

But it’s already too late.

Teams that have trailed 3-0 in a seven-game series are 4-197 in NHL history. The Panthers have about a one-on-50 chance of surviving the Lightning, who are handling their opponent while dressing just 11 forwards because Brayden Point, possibly Tampa’s best player, has been injured since his team eliminated another playoff lightweight in the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round.

The NHL’s highest-scoring team in 26 years, the Panthers have managed just a single goal in each of this series’ first three games. The Lightning have blocked 59 shots, outscored Florida 4-1 on special teams and Tampa star Nikita Kucherov, after a four-point game on Sunday, has more points in this series (seven) than Panthers Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Reinhart, Claude Giroux, Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad combined.

The Lightning can earn some vital recovery time for Point and rest for themselves by winning Game 4 and earning a third straight trip to the Eastern Conference Final. They’re trying to become the first team since the early-1980s New York Islanders to win three straight Stanley Cups.

“We realize the challenge ahead,” Tampa captain Steven Stamkos said. “These guys are back against the wall. We’ve had this opportunity before and it’s the hardest (win) to get. So we understand that challenge, but we’ll be ready. We have an opportunity to do it in front of our home fans, feed off that. We know they’re going to give us their best effort, so we’ve got to match that and then some and just keep executing. I have confidence in this group that if we play the right way, good things are going to continue to happen.”

TURNING POINT

The Lightning were up 2-1 when Tampa’s Victor Hedman was penalized for interference at 6:37 of the second period. The Panther power play, which in the first period ended an unfathomable 0-for-25 playoff meltdown, had a chance to tie the game.

Instead, Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy made four saves, his teammates blocked four other shots and, seconds after Hedman’s penalty expired, Tampa defenceman Ryan McDonagh made the play of the game by getting the shaft of his stick in front of Huberdeau’s shot when most of the net was open.

And less than two minutes later, Stamkos made it 3-1 on a one-timer off the rush at 10:23.

“Our group’s great about understanding situations within the game,” McDonagh said after a plus-four game in which he led the Lightning with 23:21 of ice time. “Big moment there, a big opportunity for them. We kill it off and. . . shortly after that we put the puck in the net. So huge swing there. I think our group on the PK as a whole wants to thrive on being difference-makers for us.”

TURNING POINT PART 2

Vasilevskiy, McDonagh and the penalty-killers got the glory, but no one should underestimate the world-class skill involved in Stamkos’ dagger to the Panther’s heart.

Hedman made a perfect stretch, bank pass to Kucherov, who took the puck effortlessly, then quickly relayed it across the Florida zone for a streaking Stamkos to one-time from his off-wing. All three elements were sublimely executed.

Stamkos said he was inspired by the penalty kill that preceded it.

“As a guy that, you know, doesn’t get out on the PK and watches those guys, I mean, it really is inspiring,” he said. “You watch those guys, they’re battling, they’re blocking shots, doing whatever it takes. Those aren’t easy minutes in a game. You see guys coming back to the bench just gassed, gasping for air, and then they’ve got to go right back out there.

“This group, it’s just. . . whatever guys are on the ice, we have full trust in that. Some of that comes with experience at this time of the year, some of that comes with going out and getting the right (guys) at the deadline and knowing the big roles that they’re going to play, and it’s just trusting in each other that you’re going to get the job done. And when you have trust in your teammates, that creates a lot of confidence and it just progresses and it snowballs and you usually get good results.”

TALKING POINT

The Lightning were lucky not to lose another forward when Brandon Hagel dangerously cross-checked Panther Eetu Luostarinen into the end boards at high speed late in the first period. Referees Dan O’Rourke and Frederick L’Ecuyer initially called a major penalty on Hagel but downgraded it to a minor upon a video review. It sure looked like a major penalty and potential game misconduct.

Despite hitting his head on the boards, Luostarinen finished the game.

LAST QUESTION

Where is Aaron Ekblad? Florida’s frozen scorers are getting much of the blame for this series, but Ekblad, who was supposed to be in the Norris Trophy discussion this season, has been almost invisible beyond his share of culpability for Florida’s power-play problems.

LAST WORD

Brunette: “We’re losing a little bit of our — which has been our strength of our team — a little bit of our resilience. Frustration has taken over passion, and we need to erase that.”

This Article was first live here.

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“I did well but this is a team sport” – Manchester United superstar makes honest admission on his team’s underwhelming 2021-22 campaign

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Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea has expressed his thoughts on the Red Devils’ underwhelming 2021-22 season.

The Old Trafford outfit brought an end to their 2021-22 campaign with a 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Sunday. Ralf Rangnick’s side failed to find a breakthrough, while Wilfried Zaha scored the winner for the hosts.

The loss, however, did not prove to be costly for Manchester United as Brighton & Hove Albion beat West Ham United 3-1 at home. The Hammers’ defeat at the Amex Stadium saw the Red Devils remain sixth in the points table.

Manchester United have thus secured UEFA Europa League football for next season. Nevertheless, it has been an underwhelming season for the English giants, who failed to impress in any of the competitions they took part in.

Reflecting on the campaign, De Gea explained that he worked hard to help the Red Devils. However, the Spain international is aware that football is a team sport and his individual performances do not matter. He told MUTV:

“I’ve been working hard, to be honest, in the summer, to get here and show my level and help the team. I think I did well but this is a team sport, so it doesn’t matter what I did.”

De Gea: “The best thing that happened today is the season has finished.” [@ShamoonHafez]

De Gea will be hopeful that Erik ten Hag’s arrival will mark the beginning of a new era for the Old Trafford outfit. The Dutch tactician will replace Rangnick ahead of the 2022-23 season.


David de Gea was a bright spot for Manchester United in 2021-22

The Red Devils will be hopeful of returning to their best under Erik ten Hag next season. Meanwhile, David de Gea’s performances are one of the few positives they can take from the 2021-22 campaign.

De Gea made 46 appearances across all competitions for Manchester United. The goalkeeper kept 10 clean sheets during the process and played a key role in the club finishing sixth in the table.

De Gea: “The best thing that happened today is the season has finished.” [@ShamoonHafez]

Having impressed in goal for the Red Devils this term, De Gea is expected to remain their first-choice goalkeeper next season. Ten Hag is likely to make major changes to the squad, but the Spaniard’s place in the team will probably remain in tact.

Backup goalkeeper Dean Henderson, though, could be on his way out of Old Trafford this season as he seeks regular action. Newcastle United are said to be on the verge of completing the 25-year-old’s signing.


Edited by Dakir Mohammed Thanveer

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The Lakers Head Coach Job Is Only Good For One Thing | Defector

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ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski provided an update today on the Lakers’ coaching search, and the names won’t knock anyone out of their chairs: The finalists for the job are Bucks assistant Darvin Ham, Warriors assistant Kenny Atkinson, and Terry Stotts, who most recently coached the Blazers. This information was secondary to Wojnarowski’s main bit of news: Michigan men’s head coach Juwan Howard doesn’t want to coach the Lakers.

So disastrous were the Lakers’ last two seasons that not even a shred of old glamor remains in the job. The next head coach will have to put up with an impatient owner, declining stars, and nothing in the way of young or exciting talent. If Frank Vogel’s tenure is any indication, the next head coach may not even get the courtesy of knowing when he’s been fired.

The committee running the coaching search harbors some pretty entertaining delusions about the quality of the job, too: Candidates are being asked how they would use Russell Westbrook in their system. Because Lakers advisor Phil Jackson genuinely likes Westbrook and believes his play can be rehabilitated, answers along the lines of “trade him” aren’t allowed. If you can’t coach the Lakers at their Russ, Jackson’s philosophy goes, you don’t deserve them at their LeBron. Sam Amick of The Athletic reported last week that “the takeaway for candidates, it seems, is that maximizing Westbrook’s presence after his disastrous 2021-22 season is considered an important part of this job.” A coaching candidate who can win while maximizing Westbrook’s presence likely has better things to do than coach the Lakers. Accepting the Fields Medal, for one.

But the real juice of Woj’s update is that Howard “recently declined a Los Angeles Lakers overture for the franchise’s coaching job,” because he wants to coach his sons Jace and Jett at Michigan. It’s always fun when basketball insiders appropriate the language of courtship (bold, too, considering some basketball insiders know nothing about courtship). If you like making a game of figuring out who has leaked what scoops to whom, this story doesn’t pose many challenges. What you’re meant to take away here is that Howard is pretty much in the overture-declining business these days, so coveted is he.

“Boston Celtics president Brad Stevens was interested in Howard for his coaching opening a year ago, but Howard declined that overture too,” Woj writes. I suppose it isn’t completely accurate to say the Lakers job has nothing of value to offer anymore. It is something you can publicly decline to seem cooler.

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