Path to Champions League final: How Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid got there

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As we gear up for the UEFA Champions League final this Saturday in Lisbon, let’s take a look back at how both Real and Atletico Madrid reached the final of Europe’s elite club competition.

Two teams from the same city have never squared off in the final before, as both Real and Atletico are the last two teams standing. Real Madrid are aiming to win a record tenth title, Atletico are searching for their first. The latter will be buoyed by their first La Liga title since ’96 arriving this season and head into the final full of confidence after an incredible run.

MORE: Latest UEFA Champions League news

Both have impressed throughout their UCL journey and have faced tricky tasks along the way, especially in the knockout stages. Between them, Atleti and Real have knocked off Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chelsea among others and the teams from the Spanish capital truly deserve to battle it out for the famous trophy.

Here is a look back at how both teams fared en-route to the final, as we trace their path.

Real Madrid

Group Stages: Winners of Group B

Real won five of their six group games and drew the other as they hammered in 20 goals. The highest scorers in the tournament went wild.

Last 16: Beat Schalke 9-2 on aggregate

Real embarrassed Schalke with Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale putting on a clinic. Total domination.

Quarterfinal: Beat Borussia Dortmund 3-2 on aggregate

After a 3-0 win at the Santiago Bernabeu in the first leg, you thought the tie was dead and buried. Think again. Dortmund found some holes in Real’s defense and quickly went 2-0 up, however Madrid held on to book a fourth-straight semifinal berth.

Semifinal: Beat Bayern Munich 5-0 on aggregate

Another German team, another win for Real. This time the blitzed reigning champs Bayern and made Pep Guardiola’s tiki-taka style look silly. Pure pace on the counter tore the Bavarian’s apart as the Spaniards set up a chance to win their tenth UCL title.

Atletico Madrid

Group Stages: Winner of Group G

Atleti also won five and drew one of their group games as they eased into the knockout stages after conceding the fewest goals of any team.

Last 16: Beat AC Milan 5-1 on aggregate

Atletico went to the San Siro and scored late on through Diego Costa to take a 1-0 lead with them back to the Vicente Calderon. There they hammered AC and breezed through to the last eight.

Quarterfinal: Beat Barcelona 2-1 on aggregate

A nervous two games against Barca saw Atletico cause a huge shock with a tense 1-0 win at home in the second leg sealing their semifinal spot.

Semifinal: Beat Chelsea 3-1 on aggregate

A 0-0 draw at home to Chelsea, then falling 1-0 behind at Stamford Bridge in the first half of the second leg meant Atletico were up against it in London. Then they sparked into life and scored three unanswered goals to reach their final UCL final in over 40 years.

USMNT back Lichaj finds new home in Championship

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Eric Lichaj is going to bring his Premier League promotion dreams to a new Championship club.

The 29-year-old USMNT fullback has been a key part of Nottingham Forest to the tune of 188 appearances since moving from Aston Villa in 2013.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

But he’s on the move, joining Nigel Adkins at Hull City on the heels of a three-goal season at Forest. He famously scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 FA Cup win over Arsenal, then naming his new dog Gunner.

“It’s a fresh start for me and I want to repay Hull City for the faith that they have shown in me by bringing me here. I’ll be working my hardest, as I always do, every day in training and on matchdays.”

The versatile American can play left or right back, and has pushed his way back into the national team picture. Lichaj has 15 caps with a goal for the USMNT.

Also, #AStarInStripes? We see you, Hull

Report: Minnesota United chasing Ecuadorian national teamer

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Minnesota United may be hoping another Ibarra can cure what ails its attack.

Romario Ibarra, 23, is on the Loons’ radar according to The Athletic‘s Kristian Dyer and Jeff Rueter, who say Minnesota would like to land the Ecuadorian when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

[ MORE: Modric urges humility ]

Ibarra was limited to eight matches for Universidad Católica this season as he battled through a lingering metatarsal fracture. But he’s scored against Argentina and Chile in each of his appearances for the national team, both World Cup qualifiers.

From The Athletic:

Sources say that Ibarra’s contract is unlikely to make him a designated player, leaving Quintero as the club’s sole DP. (It could depend, in part, on the size of the transfer fee.) Based on league standards, his salary will likely be drawn from Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) contract seems likely.

Ibarra’s older brother Renato plays for Club America, and has 36 caps.

Minnesota is six points outside the West’s final playoff spot, and has scored just 17 goals in 14 matches.

Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal field set

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The 2018 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup is down to one non-MLS entrant after LAFC fought past Sacramento Republic’s dogged effort to make it two, twice equalizing en route to a 3-2 win.

[ MORE: TFC extends Bono ]

Louisville City won a battle of USL sides in Wednesday’s final day of fifth round action, knocking off Nashville SC by a 2-1 score.

Now attention turns to the quarterfinals, where USL champions Louisville City will face the Chicago Fire on July 18.

All four quarterfinals will be staged on that day, and the winner of Louisville-Chicago will face the winner of the duel between Philadelphia Union and Orlando City.

The other side of the bracket shows Houston Dynamo against Sporting KC, and LAFC against the Portland Timbers.

Chicago and KC have won the cup an MLS-best four times each, while Philadelphia has finished second twice.

The remaining quarterfinalists have not advanced to a USOC final.

Sprawling translated Emery interview talks PSG, Guardiola, more

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Arsenal manager Unai Emery has given a sprawling interview, translated by France Football News, in which he discusses his history and his philosophies.

The interview was conducted after Emery was dismissed by Paris Saint-Germain but before he was hired by the Gunners.

[ MORE: Sampaoli defends Messi ]

It’s a fascinating read, with Emery going deep into his relationship with Neymar, the need for PSG to get an “A-ha” goal for its history books, and much, much more.

The interview is with Marti Perarnau, the author of “Pep Confidential,” and there are plenty of good nuggets regarding the Manchester City boss, as well as Rafa Benitez, Zinedine Zidane, PSG, Real Madrid, and Barcelona.

It’s fairly clear that Emery figured he’d be going to a new league, and he certainly seems like a guy fit for a project like succeeding Arsene Wenger at Arsenal. For one thing, he’s proud of his team’s style.

That’s something valued by the North London set, and Emery pointed out that Diego Simeone at Atletico Madrid and Pep Guardiola at Man City had to fail before they succeeded.

Let me say this: PSG played well and won. Many people don’t value that enough and believe that it is easy. But what happened to us? We lacked competitiveness in important moments. Why? Because this team is not confronted with enough moments of adversity in the league. Being competitive also means being faced with adversity. One has to suffer like Simeone’s team to win. One has to suffer like Pep’s team to win in England.

My team had two basic principles: having possession and pressing. That was the basis. Having the ball, and winning it back as fast as possible. I should add a little nuance. I’m talking about having possession and not positioning because there are moments where you can win the ball through positioning, and others where moving out of position can surprise the opponent. And like Guardiola says, if you have to win with a long ball from the goalkeeper towards the striker and that the forward scores with his ass, then so be it! We work like that as well.

And here’s just a quick nugget on the importance of playmaking, and how good players make a coach look better.

During his first match against Toulouse at the Parc des Princes, we get corner. Neymar takes it quickly and Kurzawa scores. We hadn’t worked that at all with him. Afterwards, I told Neymar, “My work is limited to your strokes of genius.”

Love it. Arsenal seems like it’s in good hands. Read the full interview here.