Bayern Munich break through against Borussia Dortmund, knock rivals out of German Cup

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The gap between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund was huge everywhere but the scoreboard, but even there, Arjen Robben separated the two sides.

A curling first half shot from near the arc in today’s German Cup quarterfinal gave FCB a 1-0 win over the holders, Bayern’s first competitive victory over BVB since Feb. 2010. The win also have Bayern redemption for May’s 5-2 defeat in the previous Pokal final, a match that saw the Bavarians embarrassed by Germany’s new rulers

That reign is clearly over. Having finally fallen in a head-to-head meeting with Bayern, Borussia Dortmund have no more claims to the throne. If a 17-point lead in the Bundesliga wasn’t convincing enough, the chasm between the two sides at the Allianz confirmed. Bayern is again the standard in German soccer.

And ultimately, it was a fortunate result for Dortmund, who were dominated from the get-go. As Bayern’s post-match celebrations confirmed, their mission was one of redemption, with their early intensity giving them an edge they never relinquished. The resulting pressure created the only goal, with Phillip Lahm’s high efforts and a Felipe Santana error leading to the ball that found Robben.

Germany’s defending champions had only one shot on goal. Bayern had nine. That they also controlled 57 percent of the possession was no surprise, given how Jurgen Klopp’s come to set up against Bayern, but with Dortmund unable to generate chances on the counter, this was one of the more lopsided 1-0 results you’ll see between top teams.

The disparity in play forced you to pause and consider the turnaround. Last year, the Bavarians had no answer for BVB. Now they’re in another world, remarkable better than a rival that won a Champions League group that featured Real Madrid.

Bayern’s clearly the best team in the world right now, but for a club that’s lost two of the last three Champions League finals, the question is whether they can maintain this form over the next three-and-a-half months. They have to carry this momentum to May’s Champions League final at Wembley. Given this is the level they’ve played at since August, it’s hard to see them collapsing.

The only question in my mind is whether Jupp Heynckes can get this team ready for the winner-takes-all match that awaits them in May. They stumbled last year and were upset at home by Chelsea. Will whatever befell them last year keep them from aiming this year’s title?

Here’s the day’s only goal, Arjen Robben beating Roman Weidenfeller to knock Borussia Dortmund out of the German Cup.


Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.