Posts Tagged ‘ Bayern Munich ’

Der Klassiker with Mia San Atlanta

Get the podcast here: Der Klassiker with Mia San Atlanta

Follow along with the show notes:

 

Atlanta based Bayern Munich Supporter Group Mia San Atlanta hosted Der Klassiker at Der Biergarten, with fans coming dressed in Bayern kits and lederhosen to support Die Roten. I caught up with Heather and Jon Cooke about Mia San Atlanta, their trip to Charlotte to see Bayern, their support of ATL Champions League and we even talked kits. This is a great group of fans and I hope you enjoy our conversation.

You can stay up to date with Mia San Atlanta on social media.

Read my SoccerNomad blog post on Bayern Munich home shirts.

First Bayern Munich kit

Bayern Munich kits through the years

14/15 Champions League shirt (Heather’s favorite)

2011-13 home shirt (My favorite)

16/17 Home, Away, Third shirts

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Thanks for listening! You can also subscribe via iTunes and please leave a rating and review. Follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

History of Bayern Munich home shirts

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If I had to do life over again, I may have followed the Bundesliga instead of the EPL. Doesn’t address supporting my own domestic league, but that’s a discussion for a different day. Incredible teams, passionate fan support and amazing players. Historically Bayern Munich are the top dogs and from what I knew, they had always worn red home shirts, hence the name Die Roten. But one day I read this post from Museum of Jerseys, clicked on a link and my mind was blown.

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Fußball-Club Bayern München started with a sky blue shirt and white shorts. Think about that. Sky blue. A post from Bundesliga Fanatic mentions:

. . . “in the club constitution a genuine Bavarian color scheme was mandated. The founders of Bayern settled on white shirts & blue shorts. The only problem: It was impossible to purchase blue shorts during the early 1900s, therefore Bayern was forced to wear black shorts which they called “darkblue.””

bavarian-flag

After two seasons the Bavarians changed to a white shirt with black shorts, and following a merger with Münchner Sport-Club (MSC) in 1906, the club changed to a strip of a white shirt and maroon shorts and this combo lasted until 1927 except for a short interval featuring a shirt with light blue and maroon stripes from 1909 to 1912.

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The 1927/28 season saw the introduction of a white and maroon striped shirt with maroon shorts which morphed into a white shirt with maroon sleeves and maroon shorts that was worn from 1931 to 1955. Looks fantastic. A kit of a maroon shirt and black shorts took over for two seasons before 1957/58 saw the return of white, with either a mostly white shirt or a white shirt with maroon sleeves, both worn with maroon shorts.

In 1968 everything changed. For one season the German club wore blue and red vertical stripes with blue shorts. It was an echo of the kits used from 1909 to 1912 and very similar to Barca’s strip. The following seasons of 1969-1973 saw a red and white shirt with red shorts (white shorts in 1970/71). The trefoil and three stripes of adidas were added to the shorts in 1971. Another one off shirt was worn in 1973/74 as the Reds wore a white shirt with a thin horizontal stripe of red and blue opposite the club badge with white shorts.

bayern-munich-shirts

In 1974 the club adopted the rich red shirt that I associate with the club. That year also saw the adidas logo appear on the shirt with the wordmark across the chest, the trefoil opposite the club badge, and the three stripes down the sleeves. As far as I can tell adidas and Bayern Munich have the longest running partnership between manufacturer and club, and adidas even picked up a small percentage of shares in the club in 2002.

An all red strip with varying design elements was worn until 1991 with an all white strip in 1977/78 being the outlier. 1991 saw the emergence of the adidas Equipment branding and the use of blue on Bayern shirts for the first time in 20 years. Three diagonal bars were seen on the shoulder opposite the crest and on the shorts. For the 1993/94 and 1994/95 season, things went one step further with the same template and the addition of blue sleeves. In 1995, the red/blue vertical stripes re-appeared with a white collar. 1997 saw the first predominantly blue jersey since the original days of the club and in a much darker hue. Big red bands broke up the navy blue diamond shadow pattern.

1991-1993-h 1993-1995-h 1995-1996-h 1997-1999-h

Images via Die Grosse Fussball Sammelalben

The 1999/00 season saw red return as the main color, although the shirts for the 2001/02 and 2002/03 seasons were more of the historic maroon with charcoal sleeves and shorts. Horizontal red and white stripes got a look from 2007 to 2009. The stripes went vertical for the 2010/11 season in homage to shirts from the early 70s.

1999-2001-h2001-2001-h2003-2004-h2005-2006-h2007-2008-h2009-2010-h

Images via Die Grosse Fussball Sammelalben

For the 2011/12 and 2012/13 seasons, Die Roten wore an all red kit with gold trim. This looks really good and is one of favorites. White replaced gold the following season and adidas added a diamond shadow print, similar to the crest in the body of the shirt for another really nice design. The 2014/15 campaign saw the return of the blue and red vertical stripes. White was used as the accent color on the ring collar, stripes on the shoulders, cuffs and down the torso.

2011-2012-hbayern-munich-14-15

An all red kit was present for the 2015/16 season as adidas used a darker red on the collar, brand markings, cuffs and waist to complement the traditional red. The 2016/17 shirt is all red with horizontal stripes of a very subtle contrasting red, a full collar with red buttons on a white plaquet.

bayern-munich-15-16bayern-munich-16-17

Where the club and adidas go from here is anyone’s guess. I would love to see the white shirt with either maroon trim or sleeves. Thinking Arsenal’s away shirt from 2007/08. Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed this look at Bayern Munich home shirts. I learned a lot about the club and found some really interesting designs.

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Resources for this post:

Special thanks to Denis Hurley of Museum of Jerseys for his help on this project.

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Read the rest of my Strip Club posts here and follow me on twitter @austinlong1974.

Atlanta Supporter Groups

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I’ve been in Atlanta for over two years and have run into tons of passionate and knowledgeable soccer fans, many of whom have formed official and unofficial supporters groups for their favorite clubs. I started jotting down a list and was surprised how many teams were represented throughout the city. Below is what I’ve come up with so far. If I missed a group or got something wrong, let me know.

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English Premier League
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Arsenal (Official) ATL Gooners @ATLGooners Facebook Brewhouse
Chelsea (Official) ATL Blues @ATLBlues  Facebook Hudson FC
Chelsea GA Blues @georgia_blues Facebook Ri Ra
Crystal Palace Crystal Palace ATL @CPFC_ATL Facebook Fado Buckhead
Everton (Official) ATL Evertonians @atlevertonians Facebook Fado Buckhead
Leicester Atlanta Foxes @LCFCAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Liverpool (Official) LFC ATL @LFCAtlanta Facebook Meehans Downtown
Manchester City ATL Cityzens @MCATLCityzens Facebook Brewhouse
Man Utd (Official) ATL MUFC @atlmufc Facebook Fado Midtown
Man Utd (Unofficial) MUFC ATL (Brew Crew) @ManUtdScAtl  Facebook Brewhouse
Swansea Atlanta Jacks @Atlanta_Jacks Facebook Meehans Vinings
Tottenham (Official) ATL Spurs @ATLSpurs Facebook Meehans Atlantic Station
West Ham (Official) Atlanta Ironworks @IronsAtlanta Facebook Brewhouse
Europe
Team Nickname Twitter Facebook Bar
Bayern Munich (Official) Mia San ATL @miasanatl  Facebook Der Biergarten
FC Barcelona FC Barcelona Atlanta @barca_atl Facebook Fado Buckhead
Real Madrid (Official) Madridistas ATL @MadridistasATL Facebook Olde Blind Dog
South America
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Corinthians Fiel Torcida USA @FielAtlanta Facebook
Atlanta United FC
Supporter Group Twitter Website
Footie Mob @FootieMob Website Midway
Resurgence @ResurgenceATL Website Brewhouse
Terminus Legion @TerminusLegion Website Fado Buckhead
Faction @TheFactionATL Website Fado Midtown
Atlanta Silverbacks
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
Westside 109 ATLWestside109 Facebook
Atlanta Ultras AtlantaUltras Facebook
Georgia Revolution
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
The Uprising @TheUprisingRevs Facebook
United States National Teams
Supporter Group Twitter Facebook Bar
America Outlaws ATL @atlantaoutlaws Facebook RiRa

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Top Five Matches

I came across a post on reddit asking Which five matches changed your life?Loved the question and after thinking about it for a bit, here’s what I came up with:

1996       England v Germany Euro 96

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This game created the template for watching soccer while working. ESPN picked up the rights to this tournament and I fell in love with Croatia, saw Gazza’s wonder goal against Scotland, and the Czech Republic’s heartbreak in the Final against Germany. In the previous round, England played Germany in a rematch of the 1990 World Cup Semi. I was working as a summer intern at the FBI and snuck up to a conference room to watch the second half and penalties. England were so close but after 11 perfect spot kicks, Southgate’s miss condemned the Three Lions to defeat.

1999       Bayern Munich v Manchester United   Champions League Final

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As my love for the Red Devils continued to grow, the Treble season reached its dramatic conclusion in Barcelona. With no Keane or Scholes, United was up against it and when Basler scored in the opening minutes, I didn’t believe. Negative by nature I just waited for Bayern to seal the game and accept defeat. But when Sheringham poked home from close range I screamed with excitement. And when Solskjaer put the ball in the Germans net, I ran around the house in sheer joy.

2002       USA v Portugal   World Cup 2002 Group Stage

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In the days leading up to the game, I had a dream that the US crushed Portugal like 6-0 but I had missed it by sleeping in. Due to the time difference, the game kicked off at 4am ET. On the morning of the game, I drove frantically to a friend’s house who was hosting people. After the early US blitz I thought maybe I had had some sort of premonition but alas, Portugal fought back and made for a nervous last couple of minutes. That tournament was amazing and I got up at all hours to watch the matches.

2009       Real Madrid v FC Barcelona     La Liga

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In the late 90s and early 2000s I start following FC Barcelona and watched a dramatic 2006 Champions League Final against Arsenal. In the years following, that magic team was broken up and rebuilt and taken over by Pep Guardiola who drove the Blaugrana to an unprecedented, at the time, Treble. Real Madrid hunted Barca down in the league and set up a crucial meeting at the Bernabeu, and when Los Merengues scored first, a sick feeling came over me. And then magic happened with Henry and Messi tearing apart the hosts, each scoring twice, and also getting goals from Puyol and Piqué. It was breathtaking and set the stage for Iniesta’s moment of magic at Stamford Bridge and an amazing finish to the season.

2012       Manchester City v QPR     English Premier  League

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The dramatic end to the 1988-89 season was before my time, so when United came back from 0-1 against Spurs in the final league game of 1999 to clinch the title, I didn’t think it could get much better than that. I was wrong. A bunch of fellow fans gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings for Fox’s Survival Sunday, with all ten games on an array of channels. With fans from several different teams present, cheers and groans were constant depending on the action. Eventually we started calling out the TV numbers to keep track of the events. United secured victory at Sunderland and with City down 1-2 against QPR, another league title looked secure. But the fickle finger of fate intervened and Dzeko equalized, setting up Aguero’s moment of glory. Stunned I drank several shots as I watched the celebrations at Etihad. Gutted by the result, it was still one of the greatest soccer community events I have ever experienced.

Let me know what games impacted your soccer support in the comments below.

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Check out more posts on my trips, research and memories on the MatchDay Memories page.

MatchDay Memory–1974: Part 3 (1973/74 European Cup)

Forty years ago I came into the world and while I may not have made an impact on the game of soccer, it has surely made an impact on me.  Playing the game from a very early age, I didn’t start following the game until my early 20’s.  Starting with Manchester United, I eventually started reading everything I could get my hands on and watching whatever game was on, learning about the rich and complex history of the game.  My MatchDay Memory posts over the next few weeks will focus on events in world soccer during the year of my birth, 1974.  It is in no way a comprehensive summation but rather an examination of teams and incidents that I was drawn to in my research.

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Bayern Munich were on the rise in the late 60’s, winning their first German title in 1969 with a group of players that would find club and international success.  1974 brought Bayern their first European Cup.  In reviewing results I was shocked to see that Die Roten were almost knocked out at the first hurdle.  A relatively straightforward victory against Atvidaberg in Munich was quickly overturned back in Sweden with the Swedish club scoring two goals in the opening 15 minutes to level matters.  A third goal with 20 minutes remaining had the Germans crashing out before Hoeness pulled one back to force penalties, which the Bavarians won.  A quick look at aggregate scores through the rounds revealed tons of goals scored and conceded: 4-4, 7-6, 5-3, 4-1.

In the final Bayern met Atletico Madrid.  The Red and Whites were in the middle of one of their most successful periods, winning La Liga in 1970 and 1973 and securing the Copa del Rey in 1972.  No goals in the 90 minutes of regular time led to extra time, where Los Colchoneros scored with only minutes remaining.  Schwarzenbeck equalized at the death to force a replay, in which the Germans defeated the Spanish club 4-0. Watching the extended highlights, Atleti had several chances in the first half but couldn’t convert. Bayern, up 1-0 at the half, scored two goals early in the second half and cruised from there.  Reading about the games, I noticed that Bayern’s players played the entire final with one sub and the same starting 11 played the entire replay two days later.  What fitness.  The core group of German players, already winners of the 1972 European Championships, would go on to win the 1974 World Cup later that summer and two more European Cups in succession.  The club became the dominant team in Germany.
Atleti’s glory would be on the wane with only one league title occasional Copa wins until the double of 1995/96.

Franz Beckenbauer

During my research I came across several interesting names of clubs competing in the 73/74 edition of the European Cup.

In college I played for the Great Lakes Christian College Crusaders and during the 73/74 competition a team called Crusaders FC participated.  Champions of Northern Ireland, the team qualified for the European Cup and were promptly smashed 12-0 on aggregate by Dinamo Bucharest.  The 11-0 second leg scoreline was something I was very familiar with during my time at the school, both as a player and coach.

CSKA September Flag survived the first round and then took out three time defending champion Ajax before falling to Bayern Munich in the quarters.  A truly unique name, the evolution of the name of this Bulgarian club is quite complicated.  Summing up the post on Wikipedia, two clubs in Sofia, Athletic Sofia and Slava, merged in October 1923 to form AS-23.  From there a series of further mergers and name changes led to the formation of CSKA September Flag, which was the club’s name from 1968 to 1985.  Currently known as CSKA Sofia, this club would later produce Hristo Stoichkov and Dimitar Berbatov.

Skimming the results, the name TPS jumped out at me, of course referencing the TPS Reports from Office Space.  Turns out TPS is a Finnish club and the letters are short for Turun Palloseura.  During the early 70’s, the club won three league titles in five years, with the last coming in 1975.  Tepsi has not won a title since.

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I chose 1974 simply because it was the year I was born, yet in reviewing the events of those 12 months it was interesting to see how many precursors and foundations and glimpses into the future were present.  The eternal battle between disciplined defenses against attack minded opponents; players and clubs searching for the next dollar/euro/monetary unit; shock results;  the constant emergence of new and dynamic talent from all around the world.  In 1974 I imagine that there were unknown pockets of activity around the world, complete with rich storylines and regional influence, and stories these days are now part of the worldwide narrative thanks to the internet and globalization.  Teams, players, coaches and cultures are more familiar and are part of a global fabric, with the game belonging to the world and being shared with the world.  Part of the sharing is this project, which was hard work, but informative and enlightening, and I hope you have enjoyed this look back into footballing history.

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Bibliography

Strip Club–Best (and Worst) of 2012/13

The new campaign is upon us, which means the release of new jerseys.  I have already done posts for FC Barcelona, Manchester United and Juventus, and now it’s time for the rest of Europe.

Starting in England . . . for a one stop shop of this year’ EPL kits, visit this link at Mao Football.  He has put quite a page together.

A couple of kits jump out at me.

The short sleeve jersey from Arsenal is horrendous and caused me to start the twitter hashtag: #StoptheSleeve.  Over the last couple of years, NIKE has gone with thick bands, first at the bottom of the sleeve and now narrower, multiple bands across players’ biceps.  However the long sleeve version isn’t too bad, sort of like the new US home kit.  As for the away kit, NIKE launched the Purple Reign campaign that I have co-opted into #PurpleReignPain.  Absolutely horrendous.  Can’t believe the Gunners have to wear those.

Keeping with purple, Liverpool’s new shirt manufacturers Warrior have launched a third kit that is laughable.  A purple chest with white sleeves, this is a kit that is doomed to the dustbin of history.  A solid home kit and an away kit that I am withholding judgment on are completely undermined by this piece of shit.

Across the boarder, Rangers are struggling everywhere but their kit.  This offering from Umbro is quite amazing and I love the old school look, with the sponsor getting out of the way.

rangers-home-shirt-2012-13

Moving to the continent. . .

Inter and NIKE went way off the reservation with the away kit and may be facing some major blowback from the fans.  Don’t know what could have caused them to move away from the typical white kit or maybe something blue.  Red top is a very dicey decision.

inter-milan-away-shirt-2012-13

Again NIKE is going to get some flak from me, this time on the Porto Home and Away Kits.  Porto’s home jersey is very simple: blue and white stripes.  Can be narrow or a little thicker.  Think Juventus except black instead of blue and Italian instead of Portuguese.  So what does the American sports manufacturer do?  This:

porto-home-shirt-2012-13

Combining navy #StoptheSleeve’s with a ridiculously wide white stripe, this jersey is all kinds of wrong.  Until you consider the away kit. . .

Further #PurpleReignPain.

Moving on to Spain.  I have collected almost every kit here.  So far my favorite is the Sevilla third kit.  The all navy blue strip is marked by a white collar and looks pretty sharp.  The worst kit in Spain is the away strip from Segunda side Recreativo Huelva.  Might be the worst kit ever.

Finally, I will wrap up with Germany.  I have not found the Bayern home kit, but their second and third strips leave a little to be desired.  Then there is this offering from FC St. Pauli, playing in the second tier of German football.  Guess Cleveland Browns fans have a natural partner in German soccer.  The real winners in the Bundesliga are Borussia Dortmund.  Not only are they the reigning domestic Double winners, but they have a full range of dynamic kits, with the home kit modeled by Roman Weidenfeller’s girlfriend, Lisa Rossbach.

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner.

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Here are a list of sites to find your favorite team and see what are designs are out there:

Football Fashion

Beautiful Gear

Football Kit News

Mao Football

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I know I have missed tons of stuff out there on the interwebs, so I would love to hear your best and worst.  Feel free to comment below or hit me up on twitter or facebook.

Old Futbol Buffet–Team of Destiny

I became an atheist shortly after 5pm EDT on Saturday.  How?  Why?  The 2012 Champions League Final.  How could a supreme being let a team of over-aged, racist, manipulating, selfish, underhanded players win one of the biggest trophies on the planet?  Not only win but consign Spurs to the secondary European competition and start a probable fire sale?  Not only win but beat their opponents on their home field to complete a horror treble (second in the league, runner up in the domestic cup, runner up in the Champions League Final) a la Bayer Leverkusen in 2002?  Not only win but let a disgraced captain—who hacked down an opponent in the semis to rule himself out of the game, who is up on charges of racism, who slept with a teammate’s significant other—lift a trophy of the highest order in football?

That first sentence was purely hyperbole for this post.  I disavowed God years ago.

I have no idea what happened in the game in terms of tactics and personnel.  I was at a bar with over 50 soccer supporters, drinking and ranting and yelling and taking pics and trying not to pull my ample hair out.  The first half flew by and was more entertaining than I thought it was going to be. Chelsea actually came into the game towards the end and were the best team for the last ten minutes.  A critical moment occurred when Gomez received the ball, beat Cahill and then blasted the ball into the stands.

The second half reverted to the typical script. Barcelona, Bayern, whoever, dominated Chelsea but couldn’t break them down; Drogba became isolated; time ticked away.  I kept screaming at the screen for Munich to start crossing the ball, to start challenging the Chelsea rearguard.  Guess what?  They crossed the ball in for Muller to head home, a goal that had been coming for him.  Immediately Heynckes subbed in Van Buyten for Muller.  Made sense at the time but looking back that might have been the turning point.  Five minutes later, Chelsea had their only corner kick of the match, and of course Drogba got away from his defender to score.  On to extra time.

Basically Drogba committed two penalties in the last two Champions League games and got away with it.  His foul on Ribery was idiotic.  One, what was he doing in the box?  Two, what did he hope to accomplish?  Three, how could he have been so stupid?  Robben’s penalty was horrible.  Well struck but not nearly accurate enough.  As someone tweeted:  all those Germans and they let the Dutchmen take the penalty.  After that there was only one result: The Team of Destiny would beat the Team at Home.  I tweeted that and resigned myself to a Chelsea victory in the shootout.

Not much to say about the penalties other than Schweini missed his and that was that.  Epic against Real Madrid, he didn’t strike it well enough and allowed Drogba to step forward and seize the moment, which he duly did, sending Neuer the wrong way before sprinting the length of the field, ripping his jersey off and soaking up the adulation.

Chelsea—sixth in the league, on the umpteenth manager in the Abramovich era, still in need of squad renewal—are European Champions.  Those are the facts.  I can’t change them, no matter how much I want to.  All this game revealed to me is that I’m snakebitten this season.  Just that simple.  Barcelona went down to Real Madrid and Chelski; Manchester United had the title pried from their fingers in 120 seconds on #Survival Sunday; Juventus won the scudetto only after I stopped paying attention after four years of hardcore support.  So now my strategy for the Euros is to root for Portugal, ensuring that this group of talented but brain dead players can’t win the competition.

When in doubt, I refer to Zonal Marking for analysis.  ZM’s secret identity (Michael Cox) wrote this post for the Guardian shortly after the final whistle, identifying the key trends in movement and player choices, noting that Muller and Mata were critical the match.  As for the final result, the substitutes proved the difference.

Roger Bennett (@rogbennett) summed up the game as only he can with witty and incisive and confusing comparisons and metaphors, while noting that Cech had been researching Bayern penalties since 2007 (diving correctly on all six, saving three), but he hit the proverbial nail on the head towards the end of his post:

This cup was won by repeatedly summoning glory out of the jaws of defeat through collective endeavor, resilience in adversity, indefatigable belief and gutsy pragmatism. The public profile of some of its players may make Chelsea tough to love, but its achievement is hard not to admire.

Jonathon Wilson broke down the tactics of the game, noting that both teams got their formations right but the difference was in execution.  Both teams were without key players which forced interesting changes, with both teams coping—Bertrand doing admirably in such a big game and Muller and Robben swapping positions as examples—but Bayern didn’t convert their chances, Gomez being the notable scapegoat.  Chelsea rode their luck, made their chance count and then Cech did the rest.

Raphael Honigstein was in Munich for another Final Failure for Bayern Munich, as memories of 1999 came back, with an English team snatching the trophy from Die Roten.  There was talk of change, but for me only one change has to be made—Gomez.  Get a clinical forward and Bayern can truly threaten the big boys and be yearly threat.  That is all.

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A couple of pods regarding Manchester United and Juventus.

Bobby and Eddie at the Manchester United Redcast were like me in that they started to believe at 85 minutes and then the moment, and the championship, was gone. They moved on to discuss how MUFC might respond to another challenger like Blackburn, like Arsenal, like Chelsea. They finished with a hope that Chelsea would win so that the Reds could poach Tottenham players.

The gang at Juventiknows got the pod back together to discuss the scudetto victory.  They led off in terms of belief and where everyone celebrated the championship before moving on to praise for Conte and his preparation and flexible tactics.  The next topic was the transfer policy of Marotta for this season and looking ahead to what they need for next (ie Pirlo replacement).  They wrapped up with thoughts on next season, with more games and more expectations.

Paolo Bandini reviewed a Coppa Italia full of storylines—Juventus’ bid for an unbeaten double, Del Piero’s last game for Juve, and Napoli’s run at their first piece of silverware since Maradona.  In the end, Napoli ran out 2-0 winners and now face the future, knowing that key players could move on.

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Uli Hesse wrote a great column about the final weekend in Germany, with results from the playoffs and the German Cup Final, where Dortmund thrashed Bayern Munich 5-2.  This result was the fifth straight win over the German power and was the most goals Die Roten have every given up in a final.  Uli kept with the stats with this stunner: Unless the French Ligue 1 produces 167 goals on its final matchday, the Bundesliga is once more the highest-scoring of the major European leagues – for the 22nd year in row!

Morbo Minute–Champions League Heartbreak

Chelsea 3 FC Barcelona 2

As I tweeted the end of the first leg: #CFC #FCB game is why I love and hate the game of soccer. bring on sat, bring on tues.  Three hours after the second leg I was numb.  24 hours after, I was still in shock, walking around in a fog, expecting to wake up to find out Barcelona was in the final.  Alas, it was not to be.

At 2-0 and a man up in the first half of the second leg, I couldn’t have been happier.  But once Ramires scored, I knew something was about to happen, which was further confirmed by Messi’s penalty miss and Xavi’s offside goal.  CFC just gutted it out in the second half, with Drogba at LB/LM.  Playing a 6-3, 7-2 at times and getting away with it.

I should have tweeted my Inter 2010 tweet in the second half, not the first.  Terry’s sending off was just like Motta’s, a moment that should have opened the door for the Blaugrana but focused the opposition to stay in a defensive shell and give every drop for the cause.  As I told a friend after both legs, whatever RdM is selling, the Blues are buying.  He probably just found an old Mou song sheet and everyone is singing from it.  He might not even get the job full time, but he may have a FA Cup and Champions League Trophy on his resume.

I grudgingly give respect Chelsea, for a couple of reasons.  Over the two legs, you could see that they were a team overmatched but some of them (Cech, Cole, Terry, Lampard, and Drogba) were clearly giving it one last go, and I can respect that.  It’s what my over 30 team does every Sunday, every summer.  We are old, not as quick or as fast or as good as last year or the year before that, but occasionally we sum up the energy and the courage to roll back the years.

Tactically you could see how the Blues tried to keep a superior team at bay.  A compact team shape that was highly organized and disciplined, looking for just the right moment to make their mark.  It was just like when I coached high school girls soccer.  The coach and I managed big games, usually with the inferior team, but with scouting, choreography during training, team talks, and execution, we won several games over the ten years I was involved against teams that were clearly better than us.  And that’s what happened in the first leg.  Ramires was placed on the left side of midfield a defensive outside mid, looking to be tactically sound and defensively solid, while providing energy when needed.  He also recognized the moment when FCB turned the ball over, surged down the line and whipped a ball back in for Drogba to score. Chelsea had one shot and scored one goal.  Yes Barca were the better team, but they were wasteful and didn’t get the away goal that would have put all the pressure on Chelsea going back to the Nou Camp.

There is also aspect that the Blues are the proverbial team of destiny.  You look at the Napoli result, then replay both legs of the FCB tie.  Posts, crossbars, narrow misses, great saves, huge efforts.  They are in the Final, and maybe now that they are truly the underdog and have no shot they will win the title their owner craves.  But they will have no Terry, Ramries or Mireles or even Cahill.  Yikes.

I know it’s just a game but Tuesday night was heartbreaking.  A team of history met a team of the moment and things didn’t come off.  There are so many reasons for FCB’s loss, but basically they are missing the extra gear, the piece that takes them from good to great.  They can still win the Copa del Rey and finish the season with four trophies, a nice haul, yet the season will probably be seen as unsuccessful because of their stumbles at the final hurdles of La Liga and Champions League.  As I’ve been saying, let’s see how next year pans out before we write off this team.  Even then, there will be the opportunity for a new cycle and new memories and a new legacy.

For tactical breakdowns of both legs, I suggest you read Zonal Marking’s recaps (leg1) (leg2).  We saw the games in much the same way and he is much more elegant and incisive than I would be.

For an emotional perspective, read Kxevin’s post at Barcelona Football Blog, who reminds readers: I can’t be sad because of the absolute, immense joy that this club has brought me, has brought us all.

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Bayern Munich 3 Real Madrid 3 (Bayern progress on penalties)

Bayern Munich will play the Champions League Final in their home stadium after eliminating Real Madrid on penalties.  I kept an eye on the first leg, in which Die Roten beat the shit of Los Merengues for the first and last 15 minutes of the game.  Ribery was fantastic, partly because Arbeloa was exposed out on the flank, but I really thought they didn’t do enough, especially Gomez, who missed several chances. Looking ahead, I figured Real would rally at home, with CR7 would getting better service in the second leg.  I was on the road all day for that so followed the match on twitter as Real raced out to a 2-0 lead, but were forced into extra time after Robben scored midway through the first half.  Based on twitter comments, these were not the best penalties ever taken, with CR7 missing (again) and Ramos’ skying his effort.  Schweinsteiger converted his to send the Germans through to the Final, with a chance for significant hardware after a drought of almost two years.

In both Finals, the FA Cup and the Champions League, the match-ups I wanted to avoid came about.  I’ll watch, but I won’t have the emotional involvement in either, which is probably a good thing.  Just hoping for some entertaining games.

One last thing.  More from Zonal Marking, who wrote a phenomenal article on why Champions League semis are so surprising and entertaining and dramatic.  Give it a read.

Old Futbol Buffet–Manchester 2 London 0

This weekend was another feast of footy.  I got started early, taking the day off on Friday and heading over to Soccer Zone for lunch time drop in soccer.  From there, I took in as much as I could.

Friday

Earlier this summer I came across Ty Schalter’s post about the US Men’s National Team after one of several debacles during the Gold Cup.  Little did I know that this was his first post on footy and that he was an expert on American Football, particularly the Detroit Lions.  I added him to my twitter timeline, and through his tweets was able to talk semi-intelligently (my fault, not his) with my Lions friends.  Last week he posted that he was going to a local indoor soccer facility to try to play the game he had discovered.  The result was this post, which I highly encourage you to check out.  Anyway, I asked him how it went and that I would try to get out there.  My Friday opened up and off I went.  True to his word he was wearing his 2010 USMNT Away jersey with Dempsey on the back.  I brought my personalized jersey (JUNIOR #7) of the same year and joined in.  Great guy with a desire to learn about the game.  Check him out on twitter (@lionsinwinter) and on his blog.

It has been years since I’ve played pick up at Soccer Zone but not much has changed.  Too many people on the field, too much dribbling, too much of another language.  The teams were dominated by Hispanics, which is fine but they do enjoy dribbling, which is fine at the beginning when everyone is full of energy.  By the end, it just becomes a series of 1 v 1 battles and counter attacks.  In the end, it was a good run, and thank goodness I knew a couple of people so that at least I would get a pass once in a while.  Afterwards, I headed to the bar to watch Borussia Monchengladbach against Bayern Munich.

Borussia Monchengladbach 3  Bayern Munich 1

I didn’t know anything about BMG but now I know: Marco Reus.  (Raphael Honigstein examined the move of Reus to Dortmund instead of Munich.)  Slight but quick, he terrorized the visitors every time he got the ball.  He opened the scoring after a comical clearance from Neuer and then pulled the strings the rest of the match, setting up the third as the hosts crushed the winter break leaders.  Die Roten were blunt in front of goal with very few ideas and chances, as Gomez had a decent header saved and the goalkeeper saved a long range shot in the first half.  In the second half, Jupp Heynckes brought in more attackers but it made little difference.  BMG just sat farther and farther back to hold the visitors at arms length and eased to victory.  I have no idea how the Bundesliga title will end, and really don’t have time to keep track of it, but the league is filled with very talented players that will soon be playing for Bayern or another big time in a big league.

Uli Hesse looked at who might be pulling the strings in an unbelievably dramatic Bundesliga season, with three teams tied for first and another just one point behind.

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Saturday

I had been checking scores throughout the day, so I knew that Chelsea had drawn and that Deuce had scored a hat trick, and I headed up to the bar for the Juventus game, forgetting that Liverpool was playing Bolton.  I looked up at the screen and ignored the bartender as I stared at a score that could not possibly be true: Bolton 3 Liverpool 1.  After the shock wore off, I looked around and saw a man in red with his face buried his hot cider.  “Tough day at the office?” I asked.  “What?  Yeah.”  And that is how I met Roger, a Liverpool fan in pain.  He told me he wasn’t even disappointed in the result and that the team is beyond words.  We talked through several tactical and player adjustments, but Liverpool’s current situation is beyond me.

Atalanta 0 Juventus 2

It had been several weeks since I had seen The Old Lady live, so I wanted to see how Conte’s men were doing.  They got off to a great start with Pepe dragging his shot past the far post early.  Then utter despair set in for me and several Juventini I follow on twitter.  There was about a 15 minute stretch that was truly painful to watch.  Desperate defending, horrible possession (literally could not put three passes together) and a lack of energy.  Atalanta were on top and the ball was bouncing dangerously around the Juve penalty area, usually cleared by Chiellini.  But ten minutes from the interval, the Bianconeri started moving through the gears, creating several dangerous chances, and looking a much better prospect.  Would this be a sign of things to come or just a momentarily blip?  Turns out it was the former.

Juventus came out firing and were finally rewarded after ten minutes, Pirlo crafted himself some space to deliver a simply wonderful ball to the far post that Lichtsteiner headed home to give the visitors the lead.  A moment of genius and quality.  Juve built on their pressure and were in the ascendency but did not land the killer punch (Matri was particularly wasteful) while looking susceptible to a low blow (see last week’s game).  Pepe had to be subbed after an injury and on come Marrone.  Ten minutes from time, he surprised everyone with a flick through the Atalanta rearguard that Giaccherini dutifully scored to put the game beyond doubt.  A truly beautiful goal.

The Old Lady are Winter Champions.  Hollow title.  The title is far from decided but say what you want, Conte has done everything he can to bring silverware back to Turin.  Here’s hoping that the shield is sown on the famous black and white jersey next season.  (And that Juve are one step closer to the third star).

Marco and Aaron at Juventiknows commented on Juventus’ latest victory.  Juventus were in control, especially for the last 55 minutes but I feel that the poor section in the first half was ignored.  I still don’t get what Vidal does but obviously it’s something.  One red flag the guys raised was fatigue and that will be critical to the Old Lady’s chances, especially if they go on any sort of Cup run.

Paolo Bandini remarked on Juventus’ position thus far in the season, noting several key factors—coaching, hard work, and the emergence of several players.

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Sunday

So I put together a watch party at the local party for Epic Sunday (Fox’s ad campaign for the day).  Had a nice turnout and it was fun to watch the game with fans of different rooting interests, whether that be in the teams or players for their fantasy teams.

Manchester City 3  Tottenham Hotspur 2

Spurs needed at least a draw to keep their title hopes alive, and a win would turn the title chase on its head.  The first half was awful, being the very definition of cagey, but the second half had it all—goals, ref decisions, and drama.  City got up 2-0 as Spurs lost the organization that had kept them in the match, yet responded by capitalizing on a mistake by Savic and equalizing on a wonderful goal by Bale.  The game was creeping towards the end with both teams content sharing the points when disaster struck.  City lumped the ball into the penalty area and once the ball bounced there was only one outcome: King scissored Balotelli who stepped up and converted the penalty to win the three points.  All this despite the fact that the Italian should have been sent off earlier for a foul on Parker.  Devastating loss for Spurs who did well to recover.  What remains to be seen is if they are the Valencia of England, the best of the rest (ie third) but not a title contender.

Arsenal 1 Manchester United 2

Piers Morgan was fantastic on the FOX pregame, using the word “we”, ignoring Eric Wynalda and bringing a passion to the pre-game festivities.  The first half that followed was a slightly less cagey version of the City/Spurs game, with United grabbing a goal just on the stroke of halftime when Giggs found Valencia at the far post.  The second half was enthralling as Arsenal rallied to put United on the back foot, creating an end to end game that was decided on two mistakes.  The Gunners equalizer came through Rafael’s action going forward.  His decision was fine; his execution was poor.  When he got into the penalty area, he needed to create a goal, a goal kick or a corner kick.  Instead he got tackled, lost the ball, and the resulting counter attack led to RvP’s goal in the area Rafael had vacated.  Arsenal deserved a goal and got it through a United error instead of their play.  Then Wenger subbed Chamberlain for Arshavin.  Why?  If anything, he should have subbed off Walcott, as the England International created havoc but couldn’t cross, pass or shoot.  Shortly after coming on, the Russian was tortured by Valencia, who came inside him pretty easily, got a return pass from Park and found Welbeck who slammed the ball home from close range.  Based on the Oxe’s play, I doubt that would have happened if he had been on the field, but Wenger defended the decision afterwards. Gunners fans have to be scratching their heads about the Professor’s decisions.

As for United, Jones’ injury looked serious, only because it was self-inflicted.  There have been conflicting reports about whether it is a knee or an ankle.  If he goes down, I fear for United’s challenges on several fronts.  Basically they will be down to Smalling and Evans in the back, and some sort of Giggs, Scholes and Carrick combo in the middle.  It will take some real smoke and mirrors to win the title with those players.  Also, there was some conversation around the bar about where Chicharito was.  Not worried.  Fergie is going to ride Welbeck for as long as he can.  The Mexican will still have a say this season, it will just be after Welbeck’s run is over.

At The Republik of Mancunia, spirits were high after the game against Arsenal, with key contributions overcoming an inspired side and several injuries.  Even they had a word to say about the Arshavin sub as everyone gets their boot in to Arsene.

Zonal Marking reviewed the game and concluded that Ferguson got things right over the 90 minutes while Wenger played the cards he was dealt but may have made critical errors in his substitutions.

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Podcasts

The Off the Ball pods were solid last week.  On Wednesday, the guys had Leighton James on to discuss the new Welsh National Team coach Chris Coleman, and Rapheal Honingstein informed listeners on Cisse, who signed for Newcastle, as well as some additional background on this year’s surprise Demba Ba.  Graham Hunter made his usual appearance on Thursday to reflect on yet another El Clasico and the possible futures of each club, and Martin Lipton to talk about John Terry’s legal situation.

Roger and Michael looked back on the issues of the EPL from the previous week on the Men in Blazers pod that will be quickly forgotten after another round of action.  Roger also talked his trip to the San Siro for the Milan Derby, which seemed to be more entertaining for the fans rather than the game itself.  I drank Boddingtons during the United game as a tribute.

The panel on the latest World Football Phone In talked about the legacy of the African Cup of Nations and World Cups for hosts countries; Beckham staying in the US; George John’s loan from MLS to West Ham; the quality of play at the African Cup of Nations; and FIFA’s failed World Cup rotation policy.

Old Futbol Buffet–Footy Feast

If you read my Weekend Warrior post for this week you knew that Saturday was chock full of good footy games. With this in mind, I dutifully got up and started Operation Leaf Rake 2011. I made a lot of headway, got the go ahead from the missus and left to get some pizza and beer before the first match, which I must say was an ordeal. Little Caesar’s really found a niche in the economic downturn a couple of years ago by starting their Hot n Ready program, which was a large cheese or pepperoni pizza for $5 that was always available. Walk in, plop down $5, get a pizza and off you go. Lately the Lansing stores have not met expectations, sometimes not even having one pizza ready to go. The promotion is supposed to do two things: provide value and provide efficiency. When I walk in and have to wait almost 15 minutes, the speed aspect is not hitting the mark. This has now happened on several occasions, and I don’t know if it is a Lansing thing or a Little Caesar’s taking the sting out of the program. Time will tell. But I digress.

I chose Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund over Swansea City v Manchester United for a couple of reasons. One, the Reds have been grinding lately and I didn’t feel they would blow the doors off Swansea, especially after an International Break. (I was proven right as an early Hernandez goal was all the Red Devils needed.) Two, I never watch the Bundesliga. It’s a time management thing but this is usually a big fixture, so I figured I would give it a go. Three, I wanted to get a read on Bayern Munich because they have gotten off to a great start this season and could be Champions League contenders in the spring.

Bayern Munich 0  Borussia Dortmund 1

An energetic start to the match became cagey as the first half progressed. Ribery missed a golden opportunity on the half hour, while at the other end Rafhina cleared off the line as Neuer missed a cross. At halftime both teams were canceling each other out and looking for a moment of magic.

The second half started a little chippy before Lewandowski mis-directed a header with the German No. 1 stranded. Clever interplay between Lewandowski (who had a decent game up top on this own) and Kagawa put in the Japanese international but Neuer was up for it. About halfway through the second stanza, a sloppy exchange outside Bayern’s penalty area resulted in Boateng losing track of the ball which allowed Gotze to poke in from close range. After that the game became ragged, until Bayern made a double switch and the hosts turned up the pressure with Gustavo forcing a save from 25 yards and Ribery denied after being released on the left hand side. Die Roten kept the pressure up, Petersen’s effort just went wide, but no dice. Klopp’s men left the Allianz Arena with three crucial points and opened up the Bundesliga race.

Zonal Marking posted their usual thorough breakdown, including these quotes in the conclusion:

Neither side played their best football here, and a 0-0 wouldn’t have been an unfair result. Dortmund did little more than Bayern to merit the win, although it’s fair to say that Lewandowski played the lone striker role better than Gomez, and Gotze was more involved than Robben – his moves inside eventually proved important in the goal.

Both lacked creativity from midfield, however. There are both tactical and personnel reasons for this – tactically, those midfielders were all pressing each other and denying their opponents time on the ball, and in personnel terms, Dortmund still miss Nuri Sahin, and Bayern are not the same without Schweinsteiger.

Current standings:

1

Bayern Munich

13

28

2

Borussia Dortmund

13

26

3

Borussia Monchengladbach

13

26

4

Schalke 04

13

25

After that I watched FCB v Real Zaragoza and Valencia v Real Madrid and will put comments up in my Morbo Minute post.

Sunday rolled around and my wife wanted to sleep in so I left to watch the Juventus game. With the Napoli game being cancelled and the International Break occurring, it had been a while since I had seen the Black and Whites play.

Juventus 3  Palermo 0

The Old Lady started with their typical high work rate but Palermo were dangerous on the counter with Ilicic forcing Buffon into several great saves. Juve’s opener came from a Chiellini cross that Pepe headed home. Halftime came with Juve needing a second goal to create a little breathing room, which Matri delivered three minutes after the restart. Lichsteiner played him in and he picked his spot at the far post with great aplomb. Once that goal went in, the Bianconeri went from strength to strength with some delicious football being played. Vucinic had several good chances before being subbed on 65’ and set up the third goal as Matri dummied his firm ball across the six for Marchisio to bury. From there, Conte subbed and the minutes ticked away toward full time. The fans were in full voice and Juventus are now top of the table, with big matches away against Lazio and Napoli in the coming weeks.

Juve are working really hard all over the pitch and when their creative players hit the heights, they become a formidable team. There were some worrying moments in the first half in the rearguard and those will need to be fixed if this campaign is to be successful, but for now they are well worth watching and have a real chance at some success this season.

For Serie A in general, Napoli and Lazio finished in scoreless draw, which keeps things bunched up at the table of the table.  Paolo Bandini assesses Napoli’s tough month ahead.

Chelsea 1  Liverpool 2

This was only my second time seeing Liverpool this season (the other was the first half against Man United), and I wanted to see how they would do against the Blues, who were up against it after losing to Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. An entertaining first half saw both sides threaten before Liverpool made the breakthrough after a terrible turnover from Mikel. I thought Bellamy made one pass too many but Maxi finished his chance to put the visitors up. Chelsea’s attack looked very blunt and, with David Luiz trying to play attacking center mid from center back, things did look good for the London team.

Liverpool went into a defensive shell to start the second half, sending Bellamy out wide left and their lack of pressure allowed Chelsea back in the match. Chelsea took advantage and were rewarded after Sturridge turned in a scuffed shot from Malouda. Liverpool made a couple of changes to try to stem the tide but it seemed as if the Blues would turn things around . . until Charlie Adam found Glen Johnson on the right wing with just minutes remaining. His magnificent first touch set him off on a run that resulted in the winner, a sucker punch if there ever was one. The Blues are in real trouble heading into the Champions League game on Wednesday. As for Liverpool they keep up their fight to get back into Europe.

All in all, a great weekend of footy, which started slow, but from the second half of the Valencia/Real Madrid game, it was full steam ahead. The binge was good but I’m not sure often I will be able to (or want to) to do this. Having said that, next Saturday is looking pretty tasty (he says teasing his Weekend Warrior post).

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During the interlull there was plenty of information floating out in cyberspace . . .

Graham Hunter had a few choice words for Ibrahimovic and his recently released autobiography. If you have not read excerpts, the big Swede has some pointed statements about Guardiola and Barcelona.

Based on a recommendation, I listened to the Men in Blazers podcast from Grantland. Pretty good I have to say. Felt like I was back listening to World Soccer/Football Daily, with two ex-pats going on about football with a healthy dose of pop culture references thrown in. I enjoyed the depth that they went into about the English National Team. Many of the pods I listen to do a cursory job of this but Michael and Roger drilled down on the Three Lions. I will definitely give them another try and may even add the pod to my rotation.

The Forza Football pod is part of my rotation, and I usually mention them in my Morbo Minute posts, but recently they had Simon Kuper on to talk about his new book, Soccer Men. From the pod notes:

This book profiles the interesting and the not to so interesting football figures who have graced the world of football. Our interview was mostly focused on the contents of this book.

They also wandered into some interesting topics including Messi v CR7 and Messi v Maradona, and Cruyff’s legacy.

Grant Wahl appeared on Beyond the Pitch to talk about the recent US friendlies and early thoughts on World Cup qualifying next year. Anto and Grant also touched on Blatter’s ridiculous comments, the MLS Cup Final and DC United possibly moving. Have to say that would be a pretty stupid move but what do I know?

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I finally got around to spending my birthday money and hit Amazon pretty hard in a pre-Christmas shopping frenzy. I found several soccer related books pretty cheap so picked those up. I usually try to get books at the library but I don’t see these ever hitting the CADL shelves. Here’s the list:

  • FC Barcelona Badge Beanie
  • Damned Utd by David Peace
  • Inverting the Pyramid: The History of Football Tactics by Jonathan Wilson
  • Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football by David Winner
  • Premier League Greatest Goals 3 DVD Box Set
  • Calcio: A History of Italian Football by John Foot
  • Morbo: the Story of Spanish Football by Phil Ball (updated version)
  • Seeing Red by Graham Poll

Items should start arriving this week and I’m excited.