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UEFA Champions League

City Of Naples Thrilled As Heineken’s ‘Cheers To Real Hardcore Fans’ Lights Up Champions’ League Night –

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City Of Naples Thrilled As Heineken's ‘Cheers To Real Hardcore Fans’ Lights Up Champions’ League Night -

Heineken’s “Cheers to The Real Hardcore Fans” campaign has been a smash hit since its launch, adding another layer of excitement to Champions League football.

 

As the action resumes this week, the spotlight shines on four crucial battles where passion, tactics, and the true “Real Hardcore Fans” will collide.

 

The City of Naples in Italy takes center stage with two intriguing fixtures in Milan and Naples.

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Serie A leaders Inter Milan will be hoping for the best of outings against familiar foes Atletico Madrid, while Napoli faces fellow strugglers and former champions, FC Barcelona.

 

Italy is known for its passionate supporters, and Heineken’s campaign aims to shatter stereotypes and celebrate the true spirit of “hardcore” fandom, sometimes misrepresented by negativity.

 

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Inter and Atletico will showcase their traditionally strong defenses against potent attacks.

 

Inter’s Lautaro Martínez and Marcus Thuram have combined for 35 goals, while Atletico’s Álvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann boast 37.

 

But beyond goals, the roar of the fans will be defining. Can Inter’s passionate Curva Nord outshout Atletico’s boisterous support?

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Both Napoli and Barcelona face domestic struggles, making the Champions League their last stand.

 

Napoli’s “Partenopei” are known for their fiery chants and unwavering belief.

 

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With Victor Osimhen now back and fully settled after his duties with Nigeria at the recent AFCON tournament in Cote d’Ivoire, Napoli has an extra option up front.

 

Fuelled by the passion of their “Real Hardcore Fans”, Napoli should take a crucial step towards progressing into the quarter-final.

As for Arsenal who have been on a scoring spree, they face a tough test in Portugal against Porto’s passionate “Dragões.”

“Gooners” are renowned for their vocal support both home and away, and overcoming the intimidating atmosphere in Porto will prove their “Real Hardcore Fans” status.

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The PSV and Dortmund clash also promises to be a nail-biter.

This week, the Champions League transcends tactics and individual brilliance. It’s about the unwavering roar of the “Real Hardcore Fans,” a spirit Heineken champions.

Their chants, songs, and unwavering belief will be the soundtrack to these crucial clashes.

As we raise a glass with Heineken; saying “Cheers to the Real Hardcore Fans”, we hope to witness beautiful Champions League football once again.

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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UEFA Champions League

Nigerians among Leverkusen’s African quintetin historic Bundesliga triumph

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Bayer Leverkusen’s path to their first-ever German Bundesliga title was paved by the remarkable performances of five African stars who played pivotal roles throughout the season.

Nigerian duo of Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella, Morocco’s Amine Adli, Edmund Tapsoba of Burkina Faso, and Odilon Kossounou of Cote d’Ivoire stood out as indispensable assets in coach Xabi Alonso’s squad.

The momentous achievement was solidified with a resounding 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen over the weekend, marked a historic milestone for the club.

As Bayer Leverkusen basks in the glory of their Bundesliga triumph, it’s essential to acknowledge the significant contributions made by their African contingent.

Amine Adli, with his relentless drive, appeared in 20 matches and netted two goals so far this season, while Victor Boniface showcased his striking prowess with 11 goals from 18 appearances.

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Tella, a midfield dynamo, notched five goals in his 20 appearances, adding crucial support to the team’s attacking arsenal.

In defence, Tapsoba and Kossounou provided unwavering stability, marshaling Leverkusen’s backline with authority.

Tapsoba’s 23 appearances exemplified his consistency, while Kossounou’s defensive prowess was complemented by a crucial goal contribution.

The combination of African talent and Leverkusen’s strategic prowess under Xabi Alonso propelled the team to unprecedented heights.

With an undefeated streak spanning 43 matches, Leverkusen’s triumph marks a significant moment in the club’s history, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year reign as Bundesliga champions.

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Leverkusen’s African stars are poised for further success on the European stage and domestic scene as they are still in the hunt for other titles.

As the club sets its sights on a historic treble, their upcoming fixtures against West Ham in the Europa League quarter-final and a German cup final showdown against second-division Kaiserslautern present new opportunities for glory.

Bayer Leverkusen’s African contingent has etched their names into the annals of football history, leaving an indelible mark on the Bundesliga landscape.

-CAF

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Dortmund ready for PSG rematch after epic Champions League win over Atletico

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Borussia Dortmund are relishing a re-match with Paris St Germain in the Champions League semi-finals after knocking out Atletico Madrid in a thrilling tie on Tuesday to set up a meeting with the French side they played in the group stage.

Dortmund overturned a 2-1 deficit from their quarter-final first leg against Atletico to win 5-4 on aggregate and will now renew their acquaintance with PSG, who beat Barcelona 6-4 over two legs to book their semi-final berth.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic feels his side, who won the Champions League in 1997, are now better prepared to face the French champions, after the Germans lost away and drew at home in the group stage.

“Our first game against them wasn’t good. In the second game, we adjusted to them better and were closer to victory. I think we’re a better team today than we were against them in the group stage,” Terzic said following the win over Atletico.

Midfielder Julian Brandt, who opened the scoring in the first half for Dortmund, could scarcely believe that his side had made it through to the last four after taking a two goal-lead, conceding two goals, and then scoring twice more.

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“It was a crazy game for the fans and for us. A great game for us, for our fans and for all football fans around the world,” he said after receiving his man-of-the-match award.

“It’s going to be very serious now against Paris. We played well against them at home in the group stage, but not well away. We want to do better now and, of course, reach the final,” he added.

For striker Niclas Fuellkrug, who also got on the scoresheet, the Champions League semi-finals will be a new experience.

“I’ve never played at this level before and I’m very proud to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League with my team,” he said. “Things will certainly be different against Paris than in the group stage.”

-Reuters

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Dortmund down Atletico Madrid in thriller to make Champions League semi-finals

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 Champions League - Quarter Final - Second Leg - Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - April 16, 2024 Borussia Dortmund's Marcel Sabitzer celebrates scoring their fourth goal with Ian Maatsen and Jamie Bynoe-Gittens REUTERS/Wolfgang Ratta

Borussia Dortmund stormed into the Champions League semi-finals with a rip-roaring 4-2 home win over Atletico Madrid on Tuesday that saw them fight back from a 2-1 defeat in the first leg to win the tie 5-4 on aggregate.

The German side scored twice in the first half and looked to be cruising into the last four, but Atletico bounced back with two goals early in the second half to put Dortmund on the ropes before they dug deep to complete a superb comeback.

The game got off to a flying start, and midfielder Marcel Sabitzer was only prevented from putting the home side ahead in the third minute by a last-ditch block from Cesar Azpilicueta as the home side came flying out of the blocks.

Julian Brandt put Dortmund level on aggregate in the 34th minute, latching on to a brilliant pass from Mats Hummels and firing home, and five minutes later Dortmund took the lead in the quarter-final tie as Ian Maatsen cut in from the left and drilled a perfectly-placed shot in at the foot of the far post.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone made a triple substitution at the break and it paid dividends almost immediately as Dortmund defender Hummels turned the ball into his own net in the 49th minute, and substitute Angel Correa put the Spaniards back in the lead in the tie in the 64th minute, scoring at the second attempt.

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However, the home side struck back and striker Niclas Fuellkrug made it 4-4 on aggregate with a brilliant glancing header from Sabitzer’s cross in the 74th minute.

The home fans had barely retaken their seats following that goal when Sabitzer popped up on the edge of the box, steadying himself with an excellent first touch before drilling home the winner in front of an ecstatic crowd three minutes later.

-Reuters

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