Oldest Soccer Players in Serie A

Professional football in Italy has been around for more than a century. The first league, the Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC, or Italian Football Federation), was a regional group that got its start in 1898. As more and more teams joined, there was a split that led to the formation of Confederazione Calcistica Italiana (CCI). Eventually, both groups rejoined and developed Serie A in 1929.

There are currently 20 teams in Serie A that are located throughout Italy. While there are plenty of young players to go around, there are also quite a few players who have reached or are close to 40 years of age. Let’s take a look to see who are – and who have been – the oldest players in Serie A.

Italy’s Oldest Players

We looked through the current rosters of Serie A teams to suss the oldest players in the league. Goalkeeper Marco Storari, age 40, is the oldest current player. He plays for AC Milan after being loaned out from Cagliari early in 2017. This isn’t his first gig with Milan, either – he made 13 appearances for the club before moving to Juventus in 2010, later joining Cagliari in 2015.

The second oldest Serie A player is Albano Bizzarri. Bizzarri is also a veteran goalkeeper. He was signed by Udinese early 2017, but has spent time on several squads, including Real Madrid, Lazio, and Genoa.

The third oldest Serie A player is another keeper, Bogdan Lobonț, who joined Roma in 2009. Lobonț, 39, has spent time playing for a few football clubs, including the Dutch team Ajax. The fourth oldest player is Gianluigi Buffon, a 39-year-old goalkeeper (and captain) for Juventus. Buffon, who retired from international play after Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, joined Juventus in 2001 and has been a mainstay of the squad since.

The fifth oldest player is Ferdinando Coppola, another Serie A goalkeeper for the Verona team. He joined Verona in 2015 as a free agent. While these are the oldest current players, which Serie A players have been the oldest ever to take the field for a Serie A team?

The Oldest to Ever Take the Field

Looking back over Serie A’s long history, we checked out which players were the oldest to ever take the field for one of their teams. Marco Ballotta comes in as the furthest aged. He began playing professionally in the early ’80s, and he was 44 years, 1 month, and 8 days old at the time of the specific 2008 match between his Lazio and Genoa. Lazio won the game 2 to 0.

The second oldest ever to play a Serie A game was Francesco Antonioli. He was 42 years, 7 months, and 22 days old during the match in question between his Cesena squad and Novara Calcio in 2012. Cesena ultimately lost 3 to 0.

The third oldest Serie A player to take the field was Alberto Fontana. He was 41 years, 9 months, and 23 days old when his Palermo squad met Inter Milan in 2008. Palermo was defeated 0 to 2.

Standing the Test of Time

While the oldest of the Serie A players are in their late 30s (and one is 40), many of the oldest players from each team aren’t too far into their 30s. Benevento’s oldest player, for example, is only 31 – Andrea Costa has been playing football for over a decade, but he’s still on the youthful side when considering the league’s “oldest” players. Boukary Dramé is another young oldster – the Atalanta player is only 32 years old.

Others are definitely in their upper 30s, though. In addition to the top five oldest Serie A players, there are plenty that are 35 years of age or older, including Christian Maggio (35, Napoli), Nicolas Burdisso (36, Torino), Andrea Cossu (37, Cagliari), and Stefano Sorrentino (38, Chievo).

Conclusion

If you’re a huge fan of a Serie A team, such as Juventus, Inter Milan, or Roma, we’ve got your swag needs covered at Fanatics.com – whether you’re looking for a jersey, shorts, or T-shirt, we’ve got the gear to help you show your team pride.

 

Sources

Premier League Summer Transfer Analysis

PremiereLeagueSummerTransfer_Header_1200x300

In the Premier League – where one of 20 teams can win the title – any extra edge may mean the difference between finishing in first or second place. That’s why these clubs spent in excess of $1.8 billion during the most recent transfer window, a period when clubs are allowed to sell and register new players. It’s also a time for fans to celebrate or bemoan their club’s ambition, or lack thereof, in acquiring that special playmaker who will help them win the league.

We took a look to see which clubs sent the most players on to new clubs, who spent the most in total, and which players commanded the highest price tag. Read on to learn where all the players went in the Premier League during the 2017 summer transfer window.

More Arrivals and Departures Than Heathrow Airport

PremiereLeagueSummerTransfer_Asset01

No club saw more arrivals or departures than London-based club Chelsea. The largest void to fill for the Blues was none other than defender John Terry, known to supporters as “Captain, Leader, Legend,” who saw an opportunity to continue playing regularly at championship-side Aston Villa. Chelsea looked to Serie A and A.S. Roma for a replacement in German international Antonio Rüdiger.

Manchester City also made several moves in the summer of 2017, their second season helmed by famed manager Pep Guardiola. The club invested heavily in defense, acquiring Benjamin Mendy from French-side Monaco, Danilo from La Liga winners Real Madrid, and Kyle Walker from the Premier League runners-up in 2016, Tottenham Hotspur. City also went into the market for a new goalkeeper, Ederson, who joined from Benfica.

A surprise mover in the market was Everton, who put the funds from the sale of their Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United into acquiring several other players. They rescued goalkeeper Jordan Pickford from Sunderland’s trip down to the championship, brought in Gylfi Sigurdsson from Swansea, and shored up their defense by adding in Michael Keane from Burnley.

Respect between rivals 💯 . #PL #PremierLeague #LFC #MUFC #LIVMUN

A post shared by Premier League (@premierleague) on

Balancing the Books

PremiereLeagueSummerTransfer_Asset02

Manchester United spent the most – while recording the least amount of profit from player sales – across the entire Premier League. They spent close to $200 million while only generating less than $10 million from outgoing player sales. United added several players to tighten up the defense, paying large fees for the talents of both Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and Victor Lindelof from Benfica.

Arsenal, frequently thought of as a top club in England, actually spent less than they took in from player sales in the summer transfer window. An example of their shrewd tactics saw the Gunners secure the talents of defender Sead Kolasinac from German-side FC Schalke 04 on a free transfer while selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to Liverpool for almost $45 million.

@lacazettealex's thumping volley cannons off the post 💥 #ARSBHA

A post shared by Premier League (@premierleague) on

AFC Bournemouth, known as the Cherries, spent over $40 million as they look to continue their tenure in the Premier League. This large outlay was used to sign two squad players from the 2016 Premier League Champions, Chelsea: defender Nathan Aké and goalkeeper Asmir Begović.

Money Value

PremiereLeagueSummerTransfer_Asset03

Manchester United didn’t spend the most overall, but they did spend the most on average per player. Spending close to $200 million on new signings, the average cost per player was over $22 million. Compare this to Chelsea, spending just under $240 million but acquiring over 30 players during this window. At an average of less than $8 million per player, the Blues may feel they achieved a better value than their Northern neighbors.

However, most fans won’t be celebrating the average fee per player at the end of the season – they’ll only point to it if they fail to qualify for a top-four spot and Champions League football.

Striking Gold

PremiereLeagueSummerTransfer_Asset04

Out of the five most expensive players based on transfer fees during the 2017 window, three were center forwards or strikers. Manchester United paid about $100 million to Everton to sign Romelu Lukaku. The Belgian striker, formerly an Everton player, looked to be the missing piece for José Mourinho’s United, especially with their Swedish starlet Zlatan Ibrahimović out injured.

Chelsea also prioritized the signing of a striker, opting to secure the talents of Spanish international Álvaro Morata. Morata is frequently featured as a substitute for Real Madrid and has now earned the opportunity to be the No. 1 option for a top club. The Champions needed a man of his talents after a falling out with their previous talisman, Diego Costa.

Six #PL appearances, six #PL goals. Fair to say Alvaro Morata has hit the ground running at Chelsea…

A post shared by Premier League (@premierleague) on

Manchester City bucked the trend with the third and fifth most expensive players, as they too featured in defense and not attack. Benjamin Mendy and Kyle Walker joined an already potent City, whom both just needed to find a way to stop leaking goals. These gentlemen are expensive plugs, but if they win the 2017-2018 title, fans will commend the investment.

Window Shut, Now Play On

No more transfer action can happen until January 2018, when the winter transfer window opens. Until then, whether your club spent a little or a lot, the roster is set for the long campaign ahead of each side. If their aim is just staying up and avoiding relegation, or winning the league at all costs, be sure to look the part of a true supporter – get the latest officially licensed merchandise and apparel for every Premier League team at Fanatics.

Sources

Oldest Soccer Players in La Liga

Oldest-Players-La-Liga

The Primera División, also known as La Liga, is the top professional football division in Spain. It got its start in 1928 and has become one of the most popular leagues around the globe. Additionally, this is where many international soccer superstars call home, such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. While the La Liga champion tends to be either Real Madrid or Barcelona, there are currently 20 teams that make up the league, some of which do secure the championship now and then.

We combed through the rosters of all La Liga teams to see which players are a little on the “old” side. While you’re not going to find any senior citizens competing at this level of football play, it’s still interesting to see which players may be nearing the ends of their respective careers.

La Liga Veterans

Top-Five-Oldest-La-Liga

The oldest current La Liga player is Sergio Mora, a midfielder for Getafe CF. He checks in at age 38 and has had a long professional soccer career. The second oldest La Liga player is Aritz Aduriz, a 36-year-old center-forward who plays for Athletic Bilbao. Aduriz recently signed a contract extending his playing time with Athletic Bilbao until June 2019, proving that age means nothing as far as his performance goes.

The third oldest La Liga player is Gorka Iraizoz, a goalkeeper for Girona FC. Iraizoz, 36, is a relatively new member of the squad, having transferred from Athletic Bilbao in the summer of 2017. The fourth oldest La Liga player is Daniele Bonera, 36-year-old centre-back for Villarreal CF. Bonera spent many years playing for Serie A teams in Italy but moved to La Liga in 2015.

The fifth oldest La Liga player is 36-year-old Joaquín, a right winger for Real Betis. He’s spent most of his career in La Liga, aside from a few years spent in Fiorentina, a Serie A team. This isn’t his first stint with Real Betis, either – fans of the squad much celebrated his return in 2015.

The Oldest (Ever) La Liga Players

Oldest-Used-La-Liga

Looking over La Liga’s long history, we discovered that the oldest player to ever take the field for a team was Harry Lowe, who was 48 years, 7 months, and 14 days old when he did this feat for Real Sociedad in 1935. This was unusual even for the period. Lowe was an Englishman and was managing the team at the time, and when one of his players got sick (teams weren’t allowed to make changes), he suited up for the match, which his team lost 7 to 1.

The second oldest La Liga player ever to play was Ricardo, who was 41 years, 5 months, and 2 days old in 2013 when he took the field for CA Osasuna. CA Osasuna lost the game to Real Madrid 4 to 2.

The third oldest player was Amedeo Carboni. Carboni was 41 years, 1 month, and 10 days when his club, Valencia CF, defeated CA Osasuna in 2006.

Old Vets and Young Oldsters

Oldest-La-Liga-Per-Club

The oldest players on each La Liga team vary quite a bit, ranging from 38 to 31 years old. One of the youngest “oldest” players is Cristiano Ronaldo, an aforementioned international superstar. At 32 years old, he’s the eldest member of Real Madrid. As one of the world’s highest-paid soccer players, he’s certainly earned his place in the spotlight and was recently named FIFA Player of the Year. He’s been with his club since 2009 and is signed until 2021.

Other older players include Fernando Navarro (35, Deportivo de La Coruña), Gabi (34, Atlético Madrid), Chory Castro (33, Málaga CF), Diego López (36, RCD Espanyol), and Michael Krohn-Dehli (34, Sevilla FC).

Old-Fashioned

La Liga fan? Hoping to watch your favorite vets play for a few more seasons? Good news. Fanatics.com has some of the coolest La Liga gear, whether you’re a Ronaldo freak or just want to watch Sevilla wreak havoc on their opponents.

Top 5 oldest players in La Liga

  1. Sergio Mora
  2. Artiz Aduriz
  3. Gorka Iraizoz
  4. Daniele Bonera
  5. Joaquín Rodriguez

Sources

The Evolution of the Manchester United Jersey

Tucked away in rainy Manchester, one of England’s most iconic soccer clubs is working on its domestic and international comeback. Despite winning the Europa League but not the Champions League this past season, Manchester United are currently amassing new talent to give its manager, José Mourinho, no excuse for losing the next Premier League campaign.

On the road to recovery, Zlatan Ibrahimovic is scheduled to take the field at Old Trafford come the new year. Ibrahimovic will rock the number 10 shirt and provide “extra quality” to the Manchester-based squad as one of the top strikers in the league. Additionally, the new roster includes international stars such as Romelu Lukaku and Victor Lindelöf, who will sport this year’s Adidas-crafted, Chevy-sponsored jerseys. However, this particular kit is just one of the many variations that both current and former United players have donned on the field. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to see the transformation of the Manchester United kit throughout the decades.

United Uniforms

 

Manchester United’s kit has maintained one consistent design element since 1902: its color. Red and white have been the primary colors utilized, while their rival on the other side of town, Manchester City, operates under blue and white. Although not required, handlebar mustaches prevailed between 1902 and 1909. Surprisingly, Manchester United wasn’t always known by its current name or colors.

The club was originally founded in 1878 as Newton Heath LYR (Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway) by railway workers who were interested in playing association soccer. They sometimes wore green and yellow kits in the beginning. John Henry Davies, a brewery owner in Manchester, financially rescued Newton Heath in 1902, signaling a change to both the name and colors we know today. Manchester’s primary kit experimented outside of its predominantly red design between 1922 and 1927. This new version featured a white base for the shirt, accented with a red “V” running from the shoulder to stomach.

Once World War II ended, Manchester United kicked into gear to become a dominant figure in global soccer. Their stadium was bombed during German air raids in 1941, but former player, war-hero, and newly appointed manager Matt Busby used this tragedy to unite a team and city. He would serve as the club’s manager for over 25 years. Busby successfully brought together the club’s “Famous Five”: Jimmy Delaney, Stan Pearson, Jack Rowley, Charlie Mitten, and Johnny Morris.

Sharp became the club’s first kit sponsor in 1982 and remained so until 2000, after which he was replaced by Vodafone. Several of the club’s most iconic players – David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, and Peter Schmeichel – had the chance to play for the Red Devils during this era.

ibrahimovic-kit

United’s current kit is the most commercially lucrative one in the club’s history. Adidas entered into a contract with the Manchester-based club in 2014 through a deal, which earns United nearly $100 million a year. Their sponsor, Chevy, recognized the value in advertising on the front of the Red Devils’ kit – paying $80 million a year for this privilege.

United They Stand

Even though the club will be playing in the Champions League next season, a sixth-place finish in the Premier League table won’t satisfy many United supporters. With a loaded roster including players such as David de GeaPaul Pogba, and the newly resigned Zlatan Ibrahimović, supporters and sponsors will expect nothing less than worldwide glory.

I come to finish what I started @manchesterunited

A post shared by IAmZlatan (@iamzlatanibrahimovic) on

This year, the jersey will be designed by Adidas, sponsored by Chevy and, of course, owning its red and white roots. Snag your official Manchester United Premier League gear at the best place for licensed soccer merchandise – Fanatics.com.

Sources

The Evolution of the Real Madrid Jersey

Located in the capital of Spain, Real Madrid isn’t just a national treasure. The team is an international sensation. With a roster made up of “Galácticos” – high priced player acquisitions like Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, Luka Modrić, and Toni KroosReal Madrid is regularly tipped to win not only their domestic La Liga title but also international trophies such as the Champions League.  

#WelcomeTheo Welcome to your new home, @theo3hernandez! ¡Bienvenido a tu nueva casa, @theo3hernandez! #HalaMadrid

A post shared by Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadrid) on

Read Madrid is already looking to build on their impressive 2016-17 campaign when the team acquired new players, won La Liga and Champions League titles and became the subject of rumors linking them to Ligue 1 AS wunderkind Kylian Mbappé. As the “Los Blancos” prepare for another campaign, let’s look back at some of the kits that this iconic team has worn during their quest for everlasting glory.

Really Real Kits 

 

GIF of the Evolution of the Real Madrid Kits

It was the popularity of soccer in England that led Julián Palacios to create Madrid’s first soccer team. In 1902, Juan Padrós formalized the club. During this period, the club saw the birth of its first legend – center forward Santiago Bernabéu – after which their current stadium is named. But it wasn’t until 1920 that the club became known as “Real Madrid,” an honor bestowed on the soccer team by King Alfonso XIII’s high steward. Many aspects of the club have changed over time, but the prominent white color featured in Real Madrid’s home jersey has lasted over a century.

It wasn’t until the 1980s that the biggest change happened. Adidas became the kit manufacturer for Real Madrid in 1981, and Zanussi the first kit sponsor the following year. This first on-kit sponsorship lasted until 1986. Real Madrid transitioned to Hummels and Parmalat during a decade that saw the club win two UEFA Cups, five La Liga championships, two Copa del Reys, one League cup, and three Spanish Super Cups. It helps that they had dexterous Spaniard Paco Buyo as their guarding goalie.

Adidas eventually reunited with Real Madrid in 1998 and has been the team’s official manufacturer ever since. Kit sponsors have come and gone – Bwin, Siemens, and current sponsor Fly Emirates, which has worked with the club since 2013. Players such as Marcelo Vieira, Pepe, Raphael Varane, and Sergio Ramos have all defended the club locally and internationally, sporting the iconic Adidas-Emirates combo. While the primary kit remains white, there have been several different colors utilized for away games, such as purple and black with different patterns and features. It would be unusual to see “Los Blancos” take the pitch with a home jersey that wasn’t white.

World’s Finest Club

While other clubs may have been around for longer or featured in more popular leagues, Real Madrid sits at the top of the soccer pyramid. With a powerful roster of talent, and ability to win against all odds, and slick kits, it’s clear why so many soccer fans flock to support Madrid across the globe. In order to look the part, make sure you dress the part. Pick up the 2017-18 Real Madrid home jersey and other officially licensed merchandise and apparel, all available at your one-stop Real Madrid shop, Fanatics.com.

Sources

The 2017 UEFA Champions League Final

2017_Champ_League_Header

Champions League Final

The Champions League Final is the most watched sporting event in the world with a global audience exceeding 350 million viewers. Arranged by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League is a prestigious tournament that utilizes a complex coefficient system to determine which clubs can compete in the grand European Cup.

It’s time to transform into the soccer fanatic you truly are. Here’s everything you need to know to be prepared for the 2017 Champions League Final. Read on!

Italian Side vs. Spanish Side

2017_Champ_League_Asset1

The Spanish club Real Madrid and the Italian club Juventus have a history of going head-to-head with each other in the Champions League.

There’s no other way to look at it – both champions competing in the final leverage a real home-field advantage. A total of 18 Champions League matches have ensued between the competing teams: With nine of those games unraveling at Juventus Stadium, the other eight matches were hosted on Real Madrid’s world-famous stomping grounds, Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. One round transpired on neutral turf.

“Juve,” “Juve,” “Juve!” is the enthusiastic chant that echoes throughout the sold out Juventus Stadium in an effort to galvanize the team. The Turin-based squad has claimed victory at six of its nine home matches and has scored 21 goals (an average of 1.17 per game) throughout the 18 showdowns. Conversely, Real Madrid won five of their eight home games with the tremendous support of die-hard Madridistas at their extravagant stadium. Real Madrid trails behind in total goals scored, with 18 shots passing the goaltender (one goal per game, on average).

Champions Route

2017_Champ_League_Asset2

The journey to the Champions League Final is no walk in the park, so let’s see how the matches culminating to this imperative round went down.

Real Madrid defeated Napoli 3-1, with goals credited to Sergio Ramos, Álvaro Morata, and Dries Mertens shipping one right into his own team’s net. Next, in the quarterfinals, Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo wreaked havoc on German team Bayern Munich by netting a total of five goals between both matches. The Meringues advanced to the semifinals, where they downed Atletico Madrid in return for a one-way ticket to the finals.

After achieving shutout success against both F.C. Porto and F.C. Barcelona, Juventus teammates are adamant in proving the durability of their back-line. We’ll even go as far as saying the team is a contender for the best defensive group in Champions League history. In the semi-finals, AS Monaco managed to break Juve’s back-line and ship one goal in – but it wasn’t enough to prevent La Fidanzata d’Italia (translation: “The Girlfriend of Italy”) from progressing to the finals.

Standout Strikers

2017_Champ_League_Asset3

As the Champions League Final approaches, standout players from both the Spanish and Italian sides will leave everything they have on the field with one objective in mind: to hoist Ol’ Big Ears above their heads once again.

Looking to break their team’s 21-year Champions League drought: Dani Alves, Gonzalo Higuaín, and Paulo Dybala have their eyes set on the big prize. Italian football (soccer) has been attracting elite superstars as of late, and Juventus players hope to continue the trend by bringing home one of the highest accolades in European football.

🏆😙 #Juventus @juventus #Dybala #Higuaín @ghiguain20_9 @paulodybala #UCLfinal #championsleague

A post shared by #UCL (@uefachampionsleague) on

If there’s one player you should direct your attention toward, make it Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese megastar is in peak condition and is showing no signs of slowing down in the concluding weeks of the season. Alvaro Morata and Karim Benzema are the other Real Madrid players to be on the lookout for – both proving to be central pieces to Real Madrid’s success during their campaign.

@cristiano + @garethbale11 = 🏆 #Cristiano #Ronaldo #Bale #RealMadrid @realmadrid #championsleague #UCLfinal

A post shared by #UCL (@uefachampionsleague) on

It All Comes Down to This

Calling all Madridistas and Juventus fans alike! Heading down to Principality Stadium to witness the Champions League Final? Be sure to deck yourself out from head to toe in your team’s latest threads. Check out Fanatics today for all of your Real Madrid and Juventus fan gear and memorabilia!

Sources

Champions League: Teams and Their Countries

International-Game-Header

Champions League Overview

The Champions League is the ultimate soccer competition. Orchestrated by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League pits the champions of domestic leagues and other qualifiers against one another in a grand annual tournament. Some of the most popular teams from the Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 compete for eternal glory on the biggest stage.

Here’s all you need to know to be the most well-versed “football” hipster now that the European version is the only kind available until August.

They Like to Score

International-Game-Asset-1

No team has scored more goals in the history of the Champions League – rebranded as such from the European Cup in 1992 – than Real Madrid. The team has scored close to 900 goals in pursuit of European and Champions League honors. In their current campaign, the Madridistas count on the scoring power of Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo and Welsh forward Gareth Bale.

German side Bayern Munich and Spanish side FC Barcelona both trail significantly behind the Galácticos of Real Madrid. They’ve each scored around 300 fewer goals in total, even equipped with strong players in their attacking roles. Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller help lead the line for the German giants, while MSN – Messi, Suárez, and Neymar – drive defenders crazy for Barça’s benefit.

In fourth place, with close to 500 goals, is Manchester United, the highest-scoring English side and the only one in the top five spots. The team will have to wait another year for their chance to add to this tally, though, as the Red Devils failed to qualify for the Champions League due to their subpar performance last season.

Countries With the Biggest Trophy Cases

International-Game-Asset-2

Between the European Cup and Champions League, Spanish clubs have produced the most success in winning the yearly competition. However, just two Spanish clubs share this success of over 16 titles: FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. While English clubs haven’t seen the same volume of success that Spanish sides have, more teams have had a chance to wrap their collective hands around the trophy.

Liverpool (5 titles), Manchester United (3 titles), Nottingham Forest (2 titles), Aston Villa (1 title), and Chelsea (1 title) have all won either the European Cup or Champions League. In the 2017 campaign, Arsenal, Leicester City, and Manchester City are the three English sides with a chance to claim Champions League glory. If they could win the cup, it would be the first time for any of these clubs to earn such an honor.

Where Winners Are Born

International-Game

In the first decade of the European Cup, Real Madrid claimed the top prize five times in a row. They then shared this honor with two Italian sides, AC Milan and Inter Milan, and one Portuguese side, Benfica. These were the only sides that won the right to be called European champions in the 1950s and early 1960s.

The 1970s saw the Spanish and Italian sides moved aside for teams hailing from England, Germany, and the Netherlands. There were also instances of back-to-back winners, with Ajax winning in ’71, ’72, and ’73. Bayern Munich would win in ’74, ’75, and ’76, while Liverpool would do a double in ’77 and ’78.

More recently, there has been a return to Spanish dominance, as Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the last three Champions League trophies.

Quest to Be the Best

Who will win the Champions League this year? Will it be a newcomer or a perennial favorite? Whichever team you’re rooting for, show everyone where your allegiance lies with officially licensed merchandise and apparel from Fanatics.

Hitting the Back of the Net in the Champions League

Goal Scorers Header

Champions League Top Scorers

While it’s not America’s most popular sport, soccer commands the attention of the rest of the world as the “Beautiful Game.” No competition pits so many of the best teams and players against each other than the Champions League. Hosted by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), the Champions League is a multi-tiered competition involving group and knockout stages. The final, a last 90-minute outing between the two best teams, actually draws more eyeballs than the Big Game in the NFL!

While it takes a team to make it to the final game or to win the competition, individual brilliance is appreciated. Here are the names of the clubs and players you need to know, both from years past and some of today’s starting XIs, when it comes to slotting the ball into the net in the Champions League.

Golden Boots

Goal Scorers Asset 1

Even under the bright lights of some of the world’s biggest sporting competitions, singular players can shine by scoring goals. No one player has scored more goals than Real Madrid’s striker Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward is closing in on the century mark, a feat no other player has accomplished in the Champions League. However, he isn’t alone in making this climb.

The other household name player Lionel Messi sits only three goals behind Ronaldo. The FC Barcelona forward and Argentinian footballing prodigy continues to keep pace with his peers. In fact, these two players have each won the most coveted award in soccer, the FIFA Ballon d’Or, multiple times. Essentially soccer’s most valuable player award, Ronaldo and Messi are the only two to win the award over the last nine years.

It’s not just strikers from La Liga who have won the award – several of the best strikers in the Premier League’s biggest clubs have made their mark in the Champions League as well. Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry scored over 50 goals, seven more than former crosstown rival Didier Drogba, who scored 44 goals for Chelsea.

Target Practice

Goal Scorers Asset 2

While every goal counts the same, certain teams have a propensity to score more frequently from different locations on the pitch. Two clubs, La Liga giant FC Barcelona and the beloved Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, most frequently score inside the area. Each of these clubs has scored 18 goals in the 2016 Champions League Group Stage matches from this location.

Three clubs have specialized in scoring from outside the area with Juventus’ Bianconeri leading the charge. They boast two of the Serie A’s most dynamic strikers, Gonzalo Higuaín and Paulo Dybala, who are both capable of netting a worldie.

When it comes to penalties, several teams have shown success in converting their chances. One of these is the Bundesliga’s champions-elect Bayern Munich. While the club converted two penalty attempts this season, they know just how important these chances are – just ask those Bayern players who lost to Chelsea in the 2012 Champions League final on penalties.

Weapon of Choice

Goal Scorers Asset 3

While there are many locations to score goals from, there are also a few options a player may use to send that ball into the net. Whether they’re using their head or their weak or strong foot, each goal is crucial to advancing in the tournament. No one has scored more goals with their left foot in the 2016 Champions League than Lionel Messi.

However, behind him is Leicester City star Riyad Mahrez. The Algerian winger was part of Leicester City’s unprecedented Premier League title victory in the 2015-16 season and has been a key figure in their advancement to the round of 16 in the Champions League.

Edinson Cavani doesn’t just specialize with his right foot – which has helped him score four goals for Paris Saint-Germain – he’s also got a good head on his shoulders. The Uruguayan forward has sent two goals into the net with the use of his noggin, matching the efforts of other star players like S.S.C. Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik or Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema.

Taking Their Shot

Whether your favorite team plays in England, France, Germany, or Spain, there’s no denying the quality of competition in the Champions League. Cheer on your favorite side with the best officially licensed club merchandise and apparel at Fanatics.

Source

Running Wild in the Champions League

Running Wild Header

Champions League Runaways

Fans may cover larger distances to see their team play in a Champions League match, but players traverse many meters (or kilometers) themselves during matches. While they don’t earn frequent flier miles or spend 90 minutes in first class, they’re counting on their legs – and not the captain or crew – to deliver a Champions League medal.

While the pace isn’t everything, it’s worth recognizing the importance of a fit side, capable of keeping up the intensity for sustained periods of play. Which players vying for Champions League glory this season have logged the most miles? Who has covered the most distance? Continue reading to see which wing-footed footballers cover every blade of grass two or three times per match.

Counting Their Steps

Running Wild Asset 1

In the six matches played in the Champions League group stages, no individual covered more ground than Aleksandr Gatskan. The Moldovan midfielder plays for FC Rostov and played 540 minutes (not including stoppage time) of the team’s group stage matches against Atlético Madrid, FC Bayern Munich, and PSV Eindhoven. While Gatskan didn’t score any goals, it’s possible his efforts to cover over 71,000 meters in six games helped his side upset the German giants of Bayern 3-2.

Three players for Atlético Madrid make the top 10 in total distance – Gabi, Koke, and Antoine Griezmann. Two midfielders and a forward covered over 210,000 meters combined, which is 210 kilometers or over 130 miles. These “Los Rojiblancos” certainly turn heads as they continue to motor around the pitch.

Meaningful Minutes

Running Wild Asset 2

While midfielders and attackers have to cover plenty of ground, don’t forget there are plenty of defenders responsible for being engaged in both phases of the game. Patrice Evra, a key defender for Juventus, only played 500 minutes but managed to log over 54,000 meters.

Some of the game’s biggest names, especially in the group stages, don’t play as many minutes as fans might like but still cover ridiculous distances. Take MSN – Messi, Suárez, and Neymar – the attacking trio for FC Barcelona. Lionel “Leo” Messi covered just shy of 40,000 meters in 450 minutes of play. Luis Suárez managed to cover over 46,000 meters in the same amount of time, while Neymar managed over 47,000 meters in less than 440 minutes.

Track on Field

Running Wild Asset 3

When it comes to the speed at which this distance is covered, it’s a photo finish at over 140 meters per minute. No other men cover as many meters per minute as Atlético Madrid’s Saúl Ñíguez and Real Madrid’s Lucas Vázquez. These two players offer their clubs extreme versatility due to their pace and ability to play in multiple spots. As such, they get the opportunity to do the dirty work and track forward and back throughout the game.

Tracking Back

Leave covering every blade of grass on the pitch to the players. Cover up for the matches in your team’s crest and colors with Fanatics, where you’re able to find the best officially licensed merchandise and apparel for every Champions League side.

Christen Press talks Inspiration World Cup and USWNT

It’s been quite a run for Christen Press, which is true of all the women on the United States Women’s National Team. In the summer of 2015, they won the World Cup, and Press had a hand in it, playing in four of the team’s seven matches and registering her first World Cup goal against Australia. She talked to us about growing up, sports, and family.

Press was born in the Los Angeles area along with her two sisters.

“I think my dad introduced me to sports,” she says with a wry smile.

“He was a football player in college, had dreams about going to the NFL, and then he had three daughters.”

Sports were always present growing up for Press:

“He loved that we were connected to sports. He was having us dribble the basketball in the back yard and trying to kick the soccer ball as high as we can and throw a football and tackle each other and run sprints and race … I think he gave me my love for competition and … that motivation to be better than the people I was playing with.”

It’s no surprise, then, that Press excelled at soccer in school. Nor should it be a surprise that she also ran track and played tennis. That drive to be the best led her to set a school scoring record in her junior season.

After high school, she was accepted to the powerhouse women’s soccer program at Stanford University. She started as a freshman and started setting records right away. By the time her four years were up, she had virtually rewritten the Cardinal record book. She is currently the all-time leader for goals, points, assists, and shots and holds numerous single-season records as well.

In 2011, she was the fourth overall pick in the 2011 WPS (Women’s Professional Soccer) draft. She played a season before the league folded, whereupon her professional career took her to Sweden. Playing for Kopparbergs/Göteborg FC, Press scored twice in her first league match, and finished the season second in the league in scoring. She also scored in the Swedish Cup final, defeating the league champions.

Those champions, Tyresö FF, were so impressed that they signed her in the offseason. She finished the 2013 season as the leading scorer in the league.

In early 2014, Press returned to the States, signing with the Chicago Red Stars, for whom she has 25 goals in 39 matches thus far.

But it was on the international stage that Press captivated imaginations. Which, again, should come as no surprise:

“I have pictures of myself, face painted, jersey on, waiting in line for autographs from Julie Foudy, from Mia Hamm. I was at the ’99 World Cup Final with 100,000 people there when they won in shootouts and I definitely think that that inspired me and paved the way for my career path.”

In the summer of 2015, that inspiration came full circle, as Press joined a host of other now-household names as the USWNT won their third World Cup and first since the infamous 1999 shootout victory. We’re thinking all that practice in the backyard paid off.