"There's one perfect fit / And, sugar, this one is it / We both are so excited / Cause we're reunited, hey hey" - "Reunited" by Peaches & Herb.
The fist-bump between Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery after the Frenchman scored the match winner against Werder Bremen on Saturday had me singing that seminal 70's anthem. The two mercurial wingers had gotten in to a half-time-locker-room bust-up over a free kick during the first leg of the Champions League semi-final. After the match, Arjen sported a mini-shiner while the battle news slowly, but inexorably, leaked out. And then the pundits began: "Arjen looks for move away from Munich", "Robben's future in doubt", and other headlines I'm paraphrasing here. Franck received a 50,000 Euro fine. And then Juventus put a paltry offer on the table which Arjen politely declined.
What does this mean for the future of the Dutchman? Expect Robben to re-up his contract any day now; after a win on Wednesday would be particularly lovely. Sigh. It's just another day in the life of FC Hollywood. Although truth be told, I much prefer settling free kick arguments the cheeky way; over "Rock, Paper, Scissors".
Yellow cards continue to be a concern for the second leg, especially for Bayern Munich. We now have seven players on two yellows: Toni Kroos, Luis Gustavo, Thomas Mueller, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba, Philipp Lahm, and Holger Badstuber. Real Madrid has three players on two, as well: Sergio Ramos, Fabio Coentrao, and Gonzalo Higuain; adding Xabi Alonso on four. And while it's a bit terrifying to see our entire back line one card away from suspension...
...I was pleasantly surprised to find Hungarian referee Victor Kassai taking charge of the return leg in Madrid. I caught a little flack for tipping Howard Webb to have a good match in Munich. But he did. Mostly. Ish. While it's fair to say that Ramos should have had a second yellow, and Marcelo shown a straight red for his crunching tackle on Mueller, Ribery should have also been penalized for his shameful dive in the box. So, Webb rightly saved Ribery for the final. I'll take it. We've seen what happens when Ribery is suspended for a final.
Saturday's umpteenth El Clasico, held on a rainy day in Spain, showed a tale of two managers. Pep Guardiola seemed to field a side that said he was thinking not about the La Liga title, but Champions League glory. While the Special One, Jose Mourinho, gave it everything he got; finally getting that elusive win at Nou Camp. I couldn't care less about the result, but was happy to see los Blancos slogging 90 minutes on a wet pitch, and fervently hoping someone with a nasty cold was waiting for them in the tunnel.
Again, as in the first leg, this match all comes down to defense: Which team's back four holds up better? Bayern defensive wings Philipp Lahm and David Alaba did a fabulous job containing Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel di Maria in the Munich tie, while the only glaring mistake by Bayern's defense just happened to result in a Mesut Oezil goal. But, I'd tip that one to Luis Gustavo being caught out, rather than Holger Badstuber or Jerome Boateng making any serious error on that play.
On the other side, Fabio "Thank God Munich didn't sign him" Coentrao got worked by Robben, while Arbeloa had his hands full with a sparkling Ribery. Of the two central Madrid defenders, Pepe certainly had the better day; with Ramos letting Mario Gomez get by him far too often. Xabi Alonso had a sub-par match because he was constantly having to swing out to back up Coentrao. If Mourinho decides to start Marcelo over Fabio? Well, let's just say it's not a step up.
Bayern's key to the match will certainly be wide play. And it's something die Roten do very well. Remember, Madrid has to score here, so the pitch will be open. And if Bayern happens to strike first? Madrid needs three unanswered to go through. If we win, we go through. If we draw, we go through. Pretty simple. Just. Don't. Lose. I certainly wouldn't be flying thousands of miles to Madrid if I was expecting a loss!
Yeah. I'm going, once again, to the Estadio Bernabeu. Football is my drug, and there is science to back it up. In a recently published report, Dutch and Spanish scientists studied the hormone levels of male and female football supporters during a match, and found that testosterone levels in both sexes SOARED, regardless of their team's success. And when I say "soared", I mean akin to having sex. So, that's why footie is the most popular sport in the world! Reunited and it feels so good, indeed.
Again, a final note. Welcome, Madristas! And play nice-ish. This is a Bayern blog. I am a Bayern fan. I think my team is the greatest thing since sliced bread, even whilst I'm berating them. I am encouraged to be biased. And I am. Any comments abusing fellow commentors or not related to football will not be approved. (Unless I think they're hilarious.) Also, keep in mind that I will be traveling, so comments might not be posted immediately. I will keep up as much as I can. X
La Bestia Negra! Auf nach dahoam!
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