The 2018 Champions Cup Match is set. For the second year in a row, Hurst and Euless will play for the title. But this year's fixture won't be anything like the David and Goliath matchup we saw last year. It's anybody's game.
With the addition of a new team this year, the schedule shifted to allow each club one shot at the others. City and Real got theirs in Week 6, with Euless breaking the game open after a tight opening half. Nobody pushed the All-Whites like City managed to, though, and there's no guarantee that the Champions Cup will go the way that fixture did almost a month ago.
You won't find a broader range of tactics than these squads provide. Real Euless thrives in explosive, chaotic environments. Hurst City is built for disciplined, possession-first soccer. That makes the first goal almost definitely the deciding factor in the Champions Cup. If City can get ahead and control the pace of the game, the title is theirs to lose. But it will be nearly impossible for them to climb out of the hole if they allow Euless to jump in front.
|For the second year in a row, the top club at Euless is also the best offense in the league. They've got a Golden Boot winner at the top of their formation, and his supporting striker tallied nearly the same number of goals in the course of the season.
|As is usually the case at Hurst, City spreads their talent across the field. They've got a great stable of smart and capable attacking power, but no one with the electricity of the duo at Euless.
|Real moves so quickly up the sidelines that it's hard to say just how good their midfielders are. Their game plan tends to feature individual skill connected by smart movement and deadly passes. It's a strong unit, but not an invulnerable one.
|Hurst City leads the league in possession. They're smart with the ball, and they move it well. Their entire roster gets in on the offense, with assists spread all over the field. They can strike from anywhere, and they don't give anything away for free.
|Because of the sheer power of their attack, Real's defense hasn't really been tested this season. Statistically, they're nearly perfect; surrendering a mere two goals all year. But, in a rain-shortened campaign, it might be dangerous to read into those numbers.
|Of all their units, the back line is City's youngest. They've been working in new pieces over the last few weeks, and experience means twice as much on defense as it does on the attack. This shapes up to be a challenging match.
|As above, it's tough to say just how good Real's man between the sticks actually is. He's only let two goals in — one in the final minutes of a blowout Season Opener — and he's looked good enough in his clean sheets to snag the Golden Gloves. But he also hasn't faced many shots. Will the pressure get to him now?
|City's keeper is a staple of the league, near the top of the list for All-Time Caps. He doesn't have the sterling resume of his counterpart this season, but there's nothing like veteran leadership in the goal. He'll have his hands full with a young defense and a tenacious attacking unit, though.
|In just his first year, José Davilla has taken Euless from Dark Horse to Top of Table Winner. He's got his boys playing with confidence and poise, but it's tough to say how his squad will handle the pressure of bright lights and high expectations.
|Most of the clubs in Liga HEB had a leadership turnover this year, with three head coaches going on to bigger and better things. The fact that Adam Bean has been with Hurst since their run of titles started in 2016 gives him an indisputable advantage.
|Two years ago, both Euless clubs were in the cellar. Last year, Stallions FC were upstart underdogs. For the first time in league history, they're not only undefeated but the undisputed Kings of the league. That gives them swagger, but it also means that they've vulnerable to overconfidence.
|Hurst City won the inaugural Champions Cup in 2016, and Raiders kept the hardware at home last year. If anyone can handle the pressure of an attempted threepeat, it's the dynasty-in-progress at HJH. Plus, they've been looking for revenge since Real handed them their only loss in week 6.
All told, the 2018 Champio0ns Cup looks to be an explosive, exciting affair. With Annual Awards set for distribution at half-time and a tailgate party to follow the match, there's no better way to spend your Wednesday evening.