Alternative FIFA commentary for 2017-2018

Alan Smith is a co-commentator for EA Sports' FIFA video games, so who better to give alt comms to some of football's most interesting events of 2017-2018?

Posted: Sep 18, 2018 8:43 AM
Updated: Sep 18, 2018 9:09 AM

Since last winning the competition in 1996, few clubs have endured Champions League heartbreak quite like Juventus.

In the two years after that penalty shootout victory against Ajax, The Old Lady went on to lose successive finals against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid.

Its luck hasn't changed in the intervening two decades, losing three further finals (2003, 2015, 2017) to reach an unwanted tally of five consecutive final defeats.

The run has left Juventus fans wondering if they'll ever see their team lift that famous trophy again, while the feeling persists that the Bianconeri have underachieved in Europe's top competition.

READ: Juventus can win Champions League with Cristiano Ronaldo, says Wayne Rooney

READ: Can Cristiano Ronaldo and Juve realize Champions League dream?

Now, the pressure of trying to break this wretched run has seemingly fallen almost entirely on the shoulders of Juve's new superstar: Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Portuguese forward last season helped Real Madrid to an unprecedented third consecutive Champions League win, taking his total tally to five.

If there is one player with the big-game experience and match-winning ability to take an already star-studded Juve side one step further, it's Ronaldo.

The 33-year-old directly contributed to 50% of Real Madrid's Champions League goals between 2009-10 and 2017-18, coming top of the goalscorer charts in each of the last six seasons -- surely Los Blancos' loss must be Juventus' gain.

Real Madrid weaker?

Before Real Madrid won three straight Champions League titles, no club had even managed to win the competition back-to-back in its current format.

While Ronaldo was central to this success on the pitch -- developing the unerring habit of scoring the biggest of goals in the most vital of moments -- coach Zinedine Zidane was pulling the strings from the side.

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo -- Is he worth it?

READ: Cristiano Ronaldo leaves Real Madrid for Juventus as 'new chapter' begins

Both have since departed, with Zidane quitting just days after leading them to that third Champions League crown and suggesting the team needed a fresh voice to lead them forward.

That voice has come in the form of Julen Lopetegui, the coach unceremoniously dumped by the Spanish FA just days before its opening World Cup match at Russia 2018.

With the re-signing of 25-year-old Mariano Diaz from Lyon, Real Madrid's only incoming transfer this summer, many were left wondering how it would fill that Ronaldo-shaped void.

But Lopetegui has added an element of control to Real's already scintillating counter-attacking style, with Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale especially flourishing in the Portuguese's absence.

English drought

An English team contesting the final of the Champions League was once a regular occurrence.

From 2005 to 2012, seven of the eight finals featured a team from the Premier League, including 2008's all-English affair between Manchester United and Chelsea.

But Liverpool's appearance against Real Madrid last season was the first time an English club had made it to the final for six years, a barren run symptomatic of the drop in quality of the Premier League.

In their place, Spanish teams have dominated with Real and Barcelona winning the previous four between them and Atletico Madrid also appearing in two finals.

Though with many labeling this season's competition the most open Champions League in years, could the likes of Manchester City of Liverpool bring the trophy back to England?

Pep Guardiola's side -- which fell short against Liverpool in the quarterfinals last season -- are the early bookies' favorites, while Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool have made several quality additions to its ranks along with the experience gained from last year's run.

New format

In an attempt to boost viewing figures across the world, UEFA has taken the decision to split matches between two kick-off times this season.

Instead of the usual 7:45pm (BST) kick-off for all group stage games -- with the exception of matches played in Russia and Azerbaijan -- two matches will start at 5:55pm and the rest at 8pm.

For fans in Asia and Australia, in particular, it will mean at least one game might be on at a reasonable enough hour before an early start for work the next morning.

The new format will run until the 2020/21 season when UEFA will conduct a review of its success.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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