History’s context: Where does Bayern’s win rank among Europe’s great routs?

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If you’re having trouble establishing context on Bayern Munich’s mastery of Barcelona, that’s a good reason for that. Look back on the 57 years of European Cup competition and you’re unlikely to find a result that carries all the facets that make Bayern’s 7-0 (aggregate) rout of Barça historic:

  • 1. Magnitude – Seven-goal results aren’t unheard of, but even when they happen in Champions League’s preliminary rounds, we take notice.
  • 2. Two-legged tie – To dominate over 90 minutes is one thing. To do it over 180 minutes, home and away, giving your opposition time in between to make adjustments? It’s a higher level of difficulty.
  • 3. Level of the competition – Bayern’s rout happened in the semifinals. Not in the preliminary round, where big versus little country matchups happen. And it didn’t happen in the Round of 16, where the second place team from a weak group could be matched with one of the competition’s favorites. This was one step before the finals, long after each team had established themselves in the competition.
  • 4. Two established powers – It meant something that this was Bayern versus Barcelona. Two members of European soccer royalty, the clubs have a long and successful history to draw on. They also have resources few other teams have. I makes lopsided results like these (at least, from Barça’s perspective) that much more remarkable.
  • 5. Uncertainty before the tie – And if people were expecting Bayern to role, that would put this result in an entirely different light. But there were a lot of people predicting Barcelona would go through over Bayern, lending to the shock of Wednesday’s result.

After thumbing through history, there were a handful of results that come close to matching Bayern-Barça. These three stuck out:

1965-66 – Manchester United 8-3 Benfica

Benfica had appeared in four of the five European Cup finals, losing the previous season’s final game 1-0 to Internazionale at the San Siro. Manchester United, in contrast, hadn’t been in the European Cup since the 1957-58 season, when plane crash on the team’s return from Belgrade, Yugoslavia let to the death of nine of Matt Busby’s Babes.

Meeting in the quarterfinals, United responded to José Augusto’s opening goal at Old Trafford with three goals in 22 minutes, with only a late José Torres goal bringing Benfica, by then two-time champions, back into the tie.

It was an impressive result against a team who, along with two-time defending champions Inter and five-time champions Real Madrid, were one of the competition’s favorites. In Lisbon, however, the Red Devils blew it open. Two goals from George Best in the first 13 minutes gave United a 5-2 aggregate lead. Busby, still managing United, saw his team tack on three more as well gift Benfica an own goal on their way to a five-goal romp.

Manchester United would have to return to Belgrade for the semifinal, losing 2-0 to Partizan en route to being eliminated on aggregate, 2-1. Real Madrid went on to win their sixth title, though two years later, United finally broke through, claiming their first European title at Wembley Stadium. Their opponent that day in 1968? Benfica, who lost 4-1.

1988-89 – Real Madrid 1-6 Milan

By April 1989, Real Madrid were 23 years without a title, but their semifinal tie against Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan was still the most glamorous of the season’s competition. With both teams coming off one-goal wins in the quarterfinals, there didn’t appear to be much between the squads ahead of leg one at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Forty-two minutes in, Mexican international Hugo Sánchez put the home side up, but when Marco van Basten equalized late in the second half, Milan had their result ahead of the return leg at the San Siro. There, Sacchi’s team got goals from Carlo Ancelotti, Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit, van Basten and Donadoni – all before the hour mark. Coming at the expense of Real Madrid, Milan’s 5-0 win stands as one of the more memorable matches of the last 25 years.

The victory announced the arrival of one of the greatest club teams of all-time, a squad that was nearly eliminated in each of the previous rounds. While the team would go on to win the next two Champions Leagues (and another in 1993-94), they needed penalty kicks to get past Red Star Belgrade in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals, a controversial penalty (converted by van Bastern) was all that separated the Rossoneri from Werder Bremen.

After Sánchez’s opener at the Bernabéu, Milan turned a corner. They scored 10 straight goals over the next 210 minutes, defeated Steaua Bucuresti 4-0 in the final in Barcelona, and went on to become the benchmark against which we measure all great clubs that have followed.

1996-97 – Ajax 2-6 Juventus

Coming off quarterfinal wins over Atlético Madrid and Rosenborg, Ajax and Juventus met in a highly anticipated rematch of the previous year’s final. Then, Juventus took the defending champions to penalty kicks, eventually winning the shootout at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

With two first half goals in semifinal’s first leg in Amsterdam, Juventus jumped out early, with only a second half goal from Jari Litmanen giving Louis van Gaal’s team a chance going to Turin. There, first half goals from Attilio Lombardo and Christian Vieri put the tie away by half time. Juve would go on to win the second leg, 4-1.

Juventus faced Borussia Dortmund in the final, but two first half goals five minutes apart from Karl-Heinz Riedle set BVB’s course for a 3-1 victory. Dortmund won their first European Cup, while Juventus was denied back-to-back titles.

Marcello Lippi’s team made a third straight final the following season, returning to Amsterdam to face Real Madrid. Unfortunately for the Old Lady, the Merengues went on to claim their seventh title, with Predrag Mijatovic’s 66th goal giving El Real a 1-0 victory.


None of these results have the sway of Bayern’s performance. Munich’s dominance wasn’t built on one, lopsided leg. It extended over the entire 180 minutes, and it was done against a team many considered the continent’s benchmark.

That they make it look so easy, not allowing a goal against such a vaunted attack, adds an element of shock. Nobody’s taken back by that Bayern won. It’s how they won.

Just as Milan’s late 80s-early 90s team because a benchmark with its Champions League performances, so did Bayern became a standard with today’s win. Now, whenever there’s a lopsided result in Champions League, the accomplishment will be compared to Bayern’s. Most won’t stand up.


Others that stood out:

1977-78 – Red Star Belgrade 1-8 Borussia Moenchengladbach
1982-83 – Aston Villa 2-5 Juventus
1998-99 – Bayern Munich 6-0 Kaiserslautern
2008-09 – Sporting CP 1-12 Bayern Munich
2009-10 – Milan 2-7 Manchester United
2010-11 – Schalke 7-3 Internazionale

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

[ MORE: Chicharito talks heating up with LA FC ]

On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.