SportMuse Best of 2018

With the New Year upon us, we felt like it would be appropriate to share the top articles read by you, our readers, during 2018.

We started this little enterprise back in July to write about the Premier League, and have since expanded our coverage over the past few months to include the EFL Championship, UEFA Champions League, NCAA football, some MLS coverage, and some writing about the NFL and NBA (which nobody seems to read).

As we enter 2019, we intend to keep focus on European football, but will also be offering in-depth coverage of the Asian Champions League, Women’s World Cup 2019, March Madness, and a bunch of other things that we can find time for. We appreciate every reader and social media interaction that we’ve had over the past 5+ months and look forward to more of the same in 2019 and beyond.

Without further ado, here, in reverse chronological order, are our most read articles from 2018:

Read moreSportMuse Best of 2018

Champions League – Round of 16 Draw

Champions League is taking a break until February now that the group stage is complete. But before it does, they needed to determine the pairings for the next round of matches.

The draw took place this morning at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland. As a reminder, here’s how the eight groups were settled during group play:

Group

Winners (seeded in draw)Runners-up (unseeded in draw)

A

Borussia Dortmund (GER)Atlético Madrid (ESP)

B

Barcelona (ESP)Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)

C

Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)Liverpool (ENG)

D

Porto (POR)Schalke 04 (GER)

E

Bayern Munich (GER)Ajax (NED)

F

Manchester City (ENG)Lyon (FRA)

G

Real Madrid (ESP)Roma (ITA)

H

Juventus (ITA)Manchester United (ENG)

Read moreChampions League – Round of 16 Draw

Champions League – Matchday 6 Recap

The Champions League group stage is now complete, with 16 clubs through to the knockout phase that will begin in February. We’ll know the matchups after the draw takes place on Monday, but before we get there, we should finally get around to recapping what happened on Matchday 6.

We entered Matchday six with most of the spots decided, with only seeding needing to be determined in a couple of groups. We covered six matches from four groups in advance of the matches this week that were going to have the most impact on the final results, and those will be the same matches we cover here.

Note: If you missed our scenarios for Matchday 6 – which has also been updated to reflect the results from Tuesday and Wednesday, you can read it here.

Read moreChampions League – Matchday 6 Recap

Champions League Group F – Shakhtar Donetsk v Lyon

Champions League Group F

Group F already has a winner. Manchester City has clinched the first position as they hold the tiebreaker over Lyon, the only club that can match them with 10 points. The match that matters today is the one that will determine who places second and who will be off to Europa League’s knockout stage.

Shakhtar Donetsk

The Ukrainian champion enters the Champions League during the group stage as a result of Ukraine’s football association being ranked 8th in UEFA (partially based on Shakhtar’s own relative success in previous European competition). They reached the Round of 16 last year after finishing second in their group, and they are hoping for a similar result this year.

Shakhtar is the class of the top Ukrainian league – now known as the Premier League. In 27 seasons, Shakhtar has won the league 11 times (including the past two), as well as 12 second-place finishes. They have also won 12 Ukrainian Cups during the same period. This season, they currently lead the Premier League by seven points over Dynamo Kyiv, having lost only once thus far during the season with a +34 goal differential through 18 matches.

Read moreChampions League Group F – Shakhtar Donetsk v Lyon

Champions League Group E – Ajax v Bayern Munich (Dec 12)

Champions League Group E

FC Bayern Munich and AFC Ajax, does it get any more prototypical Champions League than that? Group E is definitely not one of the groups we profiled earlier this week, as it’s already sorted out. No matter what happens both teams will advance, and all that’s left is to determine the group winner. This is a matchup between footballing royalty and you should be excited! What better way than a head-to-head at Ajax in the Netherlands on the final day of group stage games?

AFC Ajax

AFC Ajax, like Bayern, are a perennial competitor in the Champions League. Their dominance in the Eredivisie surpasses even what Bayern has managed in the Bundesliga. They have brought home an astounding 33 Eredivise League Titles to go along with 18 KNVB (Dutch FA) Cup Titles. They’ve also got the equivalent of 4 Champions League winners trophies.

Ajax are sitting in second-place in the Eredivise behind only PSV. Third place is Feyenoord, which rounds out the three dominant teams in the Dutch league. These three have at least a 10 point lead on every other team in the league. If there’s any knock on the Dutch league in recent years it would be the sheer domination by these 3 teams. Ajax has a blistering +42 goal difference in league play, just shy of hitting the 50 goal mark across a mere 15 games. In the league they are averaging 3.25 goals per game, with an astounding 0.47 goals allowed.

Read moreChampions League Group E – Ajax v Bayern Munich (Dec 12)

Champions League Group C – Red Star Belgrade v Paris Saint-Germain

Champions League Group C

All four clubs in Group C enter Matchday 6 with something to play for, with no position in the table decided. In this matchup, Paris Saint-Germain can assure their advancement to the knockout phase with a victory, and all but ensure their advance with a draw. Red Star, on the other hand, is playing for third place so they can continue their European adventures in Europa League. But they would need some help, and anything less than a win sends them home to Serbia and out of European competition for the year.

Red Star Belgrade

Red Star is hosting this matchup, which I’m sure they hope means better success than the last time these two clubs met. Paris Saint-Germain played the role of unkind hosts, welcoming Red Star to Paris and jumping out to a 4-0 halftime lead that started with two goals by Neymar in less than two minutes. Neymar managed to complete his hat trick, scoring the last goal in what ended as a 6-1 PSG victory.

Red Star has held their own in the group stage, especially considering that they had to advance through four rounds of qualification. They have four points in the group, with all points gained at home, which gives me a little hope for them in this matchup. Are they the club that lost three matches on the road by a combined score of 13-2? Or are they the club that defeated Liverpool at home on Matchday 4 to keep them alive in the group? Probably more towards the first, but I’m not quite ready to give up on them.

Read moreChampions League Group C – Red Star Belgrade v Paris Saint-Germain