Soccer, or football for Europeans, is the most popular sport in the world. Most fans know that the World Cup consisting of 32 nations playing soccer happens every 4 years. Between these 4 years, international teams play a few games domestically in their own continent, but the players play for clubs, the main source of money for the players. There are leagues made of many clubs worldwide, but the strongest clubs are located in Europe. This is where the UEFA Champions League is based. UEFA, which stands for Union of European Football Associations, manages all the matches played in Europe, whether these matches are international team matches, or just domestic league action
All the clubs from Europe can qualify for the Champions League, but like the World Cup only 32 teams make it. Teams that don’t make it to the Champions League play in the Europa League, the lower division of European soccer. However, teams that are in the Europa are considered good because most clubs don’t play continentally, just domestically. To qualify for the Champions League, teams go through a mini tournament in which the top 4 clubs in each European league are qualified. Winners of the matches get into the Champions League and continue playing in real competitions, while the teams that fail to qualify play in the Europa League.
For most leagues, action is coming to an end, and results are starting to come in. For example, most teams in the Premier League, the top tier soccer league in the United Kingdom, have 2 games remaining to play. In the Champions League, there are now 4 teams left: Monaco, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, and Juventus. Monaco are playing Juventus and the other two teams face each other Monaco, the underdogs, have beaten some top level teams to get to this stage, so some fans will be expecting them to come out on top. They are also surprisingly first in the French League, Ligue 1, after climbing on top of PSG, who have been the champions of that league for the last 5 years. Juventus, the dominant Italian side, will be hoping to continue their form after defeating fan favorites, Barcelona, who have the best attack in the world. Juventus have a 2-0 lead after playing the first game last week. The second game will be today, 5/9/17. Real Madrid, the Spanish giants, face off their local rivals, Athletico Madrid in this semifinal match. Real Madrid has mostly come out on top of Athletico Madrid in every competition. For example, the final of last year’s Champions League had this featured match where Real Madrid won 5-3 on penalties after the game was still tied 1-1 after extra time. This Madrid derby will be highly anticipated and will certainly be decisive. Real have a 3-0 over Althetico after the first game, but Athletico will have home field advantage in the second game. The game will take place tomorrow 5/10/17 at 2:45 P.M. ET. Although neither team have won a domestic trophy in 4-5 years, this is only because Barcelona is dominant in Spain.