Cristiano Ronaldo and Soccer. Soccer and Zinedine Zidane. Juventus and Soccer. As sports enters the Summer doldrums almost all of the attention of the sporting world today concentrates on Association Football, commonly known as Soccer in much of the world.
In Wales, this evening, the Champions League final will be contested and the European Cup awarded. Welshman, and Real Madrid phenom Gareth Bale will be right at home this evening, if he returns from the disabled list to be able to play on home soil. He and blog favorite Cristiano Ronaldo will try for his fourth Champions League victory in Real Madrid's match against Italy's Juventus, played at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. This time of year, the benefits of an indoor stadium are less obvious, but the climate controlled field will definitely heat up with 90 minutes of championship action.
Real Madrid are aiming for their 12th European Cup, and looking to repeat last year's win, a feat which no team has been able to accomplish. In the historic standings Real Madrid are far ahead of second best, AC Milan, who have 8 European cups. Juventus has lost six European Cup finals, the most of any team. Juventus has also won two, but the last of those was 21 years ago, so they are hungry for a win.
Real Madrid Coach, Frenchman Zinedine Zidane, has been rotating players in and out all season, so the team has learned to be flexible and to harness fresh energy. Juventus is eager, though, and with all of the bravado for which the Italians are known. Tune in with us to watch the Champions League Final this evening!
In Scandinavia: The European Tour Golf continues with the Nordea Masters, today in third-round play at Barsebäck Golf and Country Club in Malmö, Sweden. Open Champion Henrik Stenson is back playing at his home course, and was a strong favorite as play began. “It feels good to be back in Sweden and Barsebäck again. It’s extra fun to play on the golf course that I grew up on and I’m looking forward to the week," Stenson said. “Thanks to all the golf that I’ve played here I know where to place the ball and where not to be and how to adjust myself to the greens and fairways and so on. So it’s an advantage to have played at Barsebäck.”
Going into today's play, Welshman Jamie Donaldson may draw daytime attention briefly away from the Champion's League final, as he leads the field at 8 under par. Second is Roman Renato Paratore, at 6 under par. Third place heading into today's action is shared by three golfers at 5 under par, Frenchman Benjamin Hebert, and Englishmen Graeme Storm and Max Orrin. Denmark claims the only Scandinavian currently in the top ten, Thorbjørn Olesen, who shares sixth place at 4 under par. Stenson is far down in the standings at one under par, but in golf almost anything can happen. Skol!
In the United States: the Pittsburgh Penguins travel to the Nashville Predators for tonight's Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Pittsburgh, captained by blog favorite Sydney Crosby, has won the first two games at home to go ahead on the series, and are leading two games to zero. The series is the best of seven. Fans admit that the Penguins have been outplayed by the Predators in the first two games. The Nashville team has made many more shots than the Quaker Staters, the Penguins have come through with accuracy, though, getting the goals when it counts to win both games.
Nashville fans have been known to throw catfish onto the ice as a show of support for their team. Tonight maybe the Penguins will be distracted, or maybe they will toy with the Predators like a Penguin toys with fish before eating. We'll know they are serious if they make the sign of the Cross and say Grace before the game.