With UEFA Champions League quarterfinals over, it’s time to take inventory of what we’ve learned about the teams that comprise one of the more competitive semifinal quartets in recent memory. In our second stop, we consider the team that’s positioning themselves as the favorites: Bayern Munich.
At some point, Bayern Munich’s going to have to break out of their jog. The ease with which they defused Arsenal at the Emirates meant that round’s only drama came in its last few moments, and against Juventus, Bayern was never threatened. Maybe they’re so good they can trot to this year’s title, but in all likelihood, they’re going to be tested.
That’s the lens through which we’re evaluating Bayern. Yes, they look good, and yes, they’re probably the favorites, but where are the cracks? What are the points Jurgen Klopp, José Mourinho, and Jordi Roura can exploit to send the Bavarians crashing?
Here’s what we found out:
- Attack: The loss of Toni Kroos means that Thömas Müller will play through the middle while Arjen Robben starts wide. Can Müller be the orchestrator Bayern may need over the next three games? And will Robben been good Arjen? Or bizarro, make sure the people in the 16th row are wearing helmets, Robben?
- Defense: Bayern’s only allowed 13 goals in 24 Bundesliga matches, but that ratio has increased to 10 in 10 in Champions League. While that’s still an impressive total, detractors can look at a group that included BATE, Lille, and Valencia and wonder how much FCB were tested. Against Juventus they kept two clean sheets, but against Arsenal in the Round of 16, Bayern conceded three times. Nobody’s expecting a complete breach of their defenses, but against the attacks present in the semifinals, Bayern’s defensive record may not hold up.
- And beyond: This is where the acquisition of Javi Martínez is supposed to pay off. His ability on the ball, value bursting forward, and defender’s presence at the base of midfield gives Bayern a dimension they lacked in their last two finals runs. The question is whether those qualities will come through in this packed final four.
- Preferred matchups: Nobody should scare Bayern, but Barcelona represents an unknown. Whereas they have Dortmund’s number and beat Real Madrid in last year’s semifinals, this core hasn’t faced Barcelona. FCB may prefer to take embrace what they know and get Dortmund in the semifinals, Real Madrid in the final.
Friday, April 12 – Semifinal matchups drawn
Tuesday, April 23 – Leg one, semifinal one
Wednesday, April 24 – Leg one, semifinal two
Tuesday, April 30 – Leg two, semifinal two
Wednesday, May 1 – Leg two, semifinal one
Saturday, May 25 – Final (London)
SANDY, Utah (AP) Real Salt Lake has re-signed forward Joao Plata to a multi-year contract and he will continue to hold a designated-player spot.
The 24-year-old was acquired from Toronto FC before the 2013 season and he has 30 goals and 30 assists in regular-season play with RSL.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]
Plata ranks No. 3 on the team’s all-time assists list and No. 5 in goals. He has 33 goals and 35 assists during his MLS career.
Real Salt Lake begins the season Saturday when it hosts Toronto FC.
Mario Gotze’s last few seasons have not fulfilled the expectations thrust about the World Cup-winning attacker.
Gotze, 24, scored the 113rd minute goal that lifted Germany past Argentina in the 2014 World Cup, but has endured successive disappointing seasons between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund.
[ MORE: Liverpool hires new CEO ]
With just two goals this season, Gotze has played just 24 minutes since BVB came back from winter break. On Monday, the club revealed why: a metabolism disorder that will keep him out for an indefinite period of time. From Sky Sports:
“We are glad to know the reasons for Mario’s complaints and we are convinced that after recovering he will give us extra quality with his exceptional abilities,” said Dortmund’s director of sport Michael Zorc.
“Mario gets the full backing and maximum support from all of us at Borussia Dortmund on his way back.”
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Gotze at his best, and here’s hoping this problem is both curable and the reason for his struggles.
Liverpool has named Peter Moore as the successor to chief executive office Ian Ayre.
Ayre, 53, is off to 1860 Munich this summer, and has stepped down early to allow Moore to take over.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops vs LCFC ]
A Liverpool-born executive, Moore was the chief operating officer at EA Sports and has also worked with Microsoft and SEGA.
The move “completes a transitional phase” which saw several new names join the fray. From The Liverpool Echo:
The appointment completes a transition plan by FSG which included appointing Michael Edwards as sporting director while Billy Hogan was promoted to the role of managing director and chief commercial officer.
The United States U-20 men are on the precipice of the U-20 World Cup after beating Mexico 1-0 on Monday, scooping their first win against El Tri in 31 years.
Brooks Lennon continues to look the part for the U.S. ahead of his loan season from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake.
[ MORE: Liverpool flops again ]
The youngster sent in this free kick that Erik Palmer-Brown, himself a loan man at Porto from Sporting KC this year, headed into the Mexico goal courtesy of a back post defender who opted for his right leg over a decent clearing attempt.
The U.S. took that lead into halftime.
Things got chippy as the second half unfolded, with referee Melvin Matamoros turning a blind eye to a few clattering tackles.
Tab Ramos subbed NYCFC prospect Jonathan Lewis into the match, and he sprung a counterattack that should have put the match to bed. But Lewis’ through ball missed FC Dallas’ Coy Craft and the latter took too much time, frittering away the chance.