By Tim Stannard
1) Red pill or blue pill time for Juve’s season
Juventus of late have been treating Serie A sides a little like a bullet-time Neo taking on a super-speed Agent Smith in the finale of The Matrix – one handed and almost yawning a little.
Now the Old Lady is going to have to up its Keanu Reeves game and get all John Wick on Barcelona’s booty if all the season’s hopes and spending on Gonzalo Higuain are to come to fruition rather than a big, fat nada.
It theory, Barca are there for the taking. Yes, the Camp Nou side is indestructible when at their best, but those moments are increasingly infrequent as the PSG debacle in Paris and the recent Malaga flopping testify.
Juventus are on an unbeaten 21-match home run in the Champions League whilst Barcelona have lost two out of the team’s last three away days in the competition, winning just four in the past 10.
It’s no wonder that Massimiliano Allegri sees the need to go against all Italian instincts and aim for Barca’s tender points in the first leg in Turin. “You can't hope to face Barcelona and draw 0-0 twice and win on penalties," announced the Juve manager.
2) Last eight old-timers go head-to-head in hipster heaven
Tuesday’s second semi-final has lazily been dubbed the hipster game between two wide-eyed rookies, probably by Sports Burst itself somewhere down the line. That branding has largely stemmed from the fun brand of football both like to play and the fact that neither side is Barcelona or Real Madrid, therefore “out there” and odd.
Of the many hooks to grabble onto in this particular clash, a stand-out battle could well be between two of Europe’s hottest prospects in Kylian Mbappe for Monaco and America’s very own Christian Pulisic. However, neither side are trembling debutantes to this stage of the competition, like an English team would be.
Indeed, Monaco are in the quarters for the second time in three years, only narrowly losing to Juventus by the single goal in 2015. Their opponents are BVB.
3) Arsenal set to poach Barcelona’s next boss
Returning to the Barca theme and ‘Marca’ have thrown up a most curious story that Arsenal – not doing so well, you may have noticed – could be moving for Ernesto Valverde as their new coach over the summer.
However, the Athletic Bilbao boss is reportedly the number one choice for Barcelona to take over Luis Enrique but has allegedly received a probing from the Arsene-addicted EPL club over his availability.
4) Argentina start hunt for Messi’s new manager. Argentina this time.
After an awful lot of pondering – and probably pokes into the federation’s bank account - the Argentine football bigwigs decided to fire national team coach, Edgardo Bauza on Monday evening. So, the hunt begins for a new head honcho to save the country’s World Cup campaign and then lead Leo Messi and co to inevitable crushing disappointment in Russia next summer.
Top of the pile to take over is Sevilla manager, Jorge Sampaoli, Argentinean through and through despite making a managerial name for himself with Chile by winning the Copa America in 2015 and the made-up one in 2016. However, don’t bet against Marcelo ‘El Loco’ Bielsa taking charge.
5) Request made to speed up World Cup bid for The Trio
The triple-nation World Cup bid for the 2026 event that sees the US, Canada and Mexico clubbing together is still making waves on Tuesday.
Indeed, an official request has reportedly been made to FIFA for the decision-making process to be sped up by two years for an announcement to be made in 2018 and 2020. This is especially as Europe and Asia are barred from any bids due to hosting the two previous events.
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The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. SB is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.