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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 9:00 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.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 610839

Reported Deaths: 7749
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1266401800
Ramsey53172911
Dakota47328475
Anoka43323465
Washington27717296
Stearns22703227
St. Louis18297319
Scott17719139
Wright16561153
Olmsted13549103
Sherburne1215696
Carver1075749
Clay829692
Rice8261111
Blue Earth771944
Crow Wing689599
Kandiyohi670885
Chisago627654
Otter Tail591187
Benton586698
Goodhue486174
Douglas479281
Mower478233
Winona464652
Itasca463168
Isanti446667
McLeod435161
Morrison428462
Beltrami410763
Nobles410150
Steele401419
Polk390772
Becker389457
Lyon365554
Carlton356958
Freeborn352134
Pine337823
Nicollet334545
Mille Lacs315456
Brown308840
Le Sueur300127
Cass288633
Todd288633
Meeker266244
Waseca241023
Martin237233
Roseau212421
Wabasha20843
Hubbard198341
Dodge19023
Renville183946
Redwood178541
Houston175916
Cottonwood168224
Wadena165223
Fillmore159710
Faribault157220
Chippewa154138
Pennington153920
Kanabec148028
Sibley147410
Aitkin139437
Watonwan13629
Rock129219
Jackson123112
Pipestone117226
Yellow Medicine115420
Pope11406
Swift107618
Murray107410
Koochiching96819
Stevens92611
Clearwater89317
Marshall88917
Lake84520
Wilkin84013
Lac qui Parle76122
Big Stone6094
Grant5958
Lincoln5863
Mahnomen5669
Norman5509
Kittson49122
Unassigned48793
Red Lake4037
Traverse3835
Lake of the Woods3484
Cook1740

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 374664

Reported Deaths: 6109
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk58891646
Linn21448342
Scott20426250
Black Hawk16680319
Woodbury15319230
Johnson1473686
Dubuque13595213
Dallas1144099
Pottawattamie11307177
Story1082848
Warren592092
Clinton564393
Cerro Gordo562297
Webster538996
Sioux519174
Muscatine4920106
Marshall491479
Des Moines478275
Jasper452073
Wapello4366123
Buena Vista431040
Plymouth404982
Lee392658
Marion369177
Jones301257
Henry301037
Bremer292763
Carroll286252
Boone271234
Crawford270841
Benton262755
Washington259851
Dickinson250745
Mahaska232551
Jackson225842
Kossuth219166
Clay217327
Tama213372
Delaware211743
Winneshiek200636
Buchanan196734
Page195422
Cedar192923
Hardin191144
Wright189140
Fayette188243
Hamilton186851
Harrison181973
Clayton173057
Butler167835
Madison167719
Floyd164642
Mills163824
Cherokee161538
Lyon160941
Poweshiek159036
Allamakee155552
Hancock153134
Iowa148324
Winnebago145731
Calhoun143113
Cass140855
Grundy139333
Emmet136741
Jefferson134535
Sac132620
Shelby131838
Louisa130249
Union129535
Appanoose128049
Franklin127823
Mitchell127243
Chickasaw125717
Guthrie124532
Humboldt124526
Palo Alto114924
Montgomery106738
Howard105322
Clarke102424
Monroe100633
Keokuk99932
Ida92735
Adair89632
Davis86825
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Monona85931
Greene79111
Osceola79017
Lucas77423
Worth7568
Taylor67112
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Fremont64810
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Van Buren56718
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