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: 319115

Reported Deaths: 7353
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22246264
Hinds20612421
Harrison18342316
Rankin13855282
Jackson13666248
Madison10213224
Lee10050176
Jones8452167
Forrest7810153
Lauderdale7253242
Lowndes6488149
Lamar632288
Lafayette6295120
Washington5412136
Bolivar4833133
Panola4659110
Oktibbeha465898
Pearl River4591146
Marshall4571105
Warren4436121
Pontotoc424573
Union415576
Monroe4154135
Neshoba4059179
Lincoln4007111
Hancock385187
Leflore3514125
Tate342386
Sunflower339391
Pike3366110
Alcorn323272
Scott319274
Yazoo313971
Adams304785
Itawamba304777
Copiah299666
Coahoma298283
Simpson297889
Tippah291168
Prentiss283361
Leake271674
Marion271280
Covington266683
Wayne264442
Grenada264087
George251851
Newton248563
Tishomingo230867
Winston229881
Jasper222048
Attala214973
Chickasaw210459
Holmes190374
Clay187454
Stone187233
Tallahatchie179941
Clarke178980
Calhoun173732
Yalobusha167740
Smith164034
Walthall135147
Greene131633
Lawrence131024
Montgomery128643
Noxubee127934
Perry126638
Amite125942
Carroll122330
Webster115032
Tunica107927
Jefferson Davis107633
Claiborne102930
Benton102225
Humphreys97533
Kemper96628
Franklin84923
Quitman81816
Choctaw79018
Wilkinson69332
Jefferson66228
Sharkey50817
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 547323

Reported Deaths: 11266
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson808021563
Mobile41925826
Madison35600522
Tuscaloosa26136458
Shelby25554254
Montgomery25067610
Baldwin21774313
Lee16234175
Calhoun14692325
Morgan14614285
Etowah14132361
Marshall12443230
Houston10748287
Elmore10295212
Limestone10180157
St. Clair10146250
Cullman9921200
Lauderdale9582248
DeKalb8955189
Talladega8441184
Walker7318279
Autauga7215113
Blount6925139
Jackson6900113
Colbert6394139
Coffee5616126
Dale4928114
Russell454441
Chilton4461116
Franklin430683
Covington4263122
Tallapoosa4117154
Escambia400280
Chambers3715123
Dallas3604156
Clarke352861
Marion3231106
Pike313978
Lawrence3121100
Winston283372
Bibb267364
Geneva256981
Marengo250565
Pickens236562
Barbour234559
Hale226578
Butler223371
Fayette217162
Henry193843
Cherokee187245
Randolph186844
Monroe179141
Washington170339
Macon163051
Clay159559
Crenshaw155057
Cleburne152543
Lamar145837
Lowndes141953
Wilcox127030
Bullock124242
Conecuh112930
Coosa111129
Perry108726
Sumter105732
Greene93434
Choctaw61725
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