Chelsea’s Rafael Benitez has been honored as Barclays Manager of the Month. And it’s about time!
Despite hordes of criticism heaped on him by Chelsea fans and a British media seemingly transfixed on ruffling the feathers of foreign bosses (see: Arsene Wenger, Roberto Mancini, Andre Villas-Boas, Manuel Pochetino and Paulo Di Canio), Benitez has provided one of the most stunning managerial performances of the season. And the league is finally taking notice making the interim boss the first Chelsea boss to be named Premier League Manager of the Month since Carlo Ancelotti in April 2011.
Benitez’ side enjoyed an unbeaten month in the league, with three wins from four games. During that stretch the Blues knocked off Swansea City, Sunderland and Fulham while drawing with Liverpool after conceding a last-gasp equalizer at Anfield.
Adding to the significance of the achievement is that Chelsea earned the domestic results while playing five other games during the month, including two matches against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League quarter-finals (where they won 5-4 on aggregate), a 1-0 win over Manchester United in the FA Cup, and a 2-1 first leg victory at FC Basel in the Europa League semi-finals.
Think about that – nine matches in 30 days. Crazy!
The league results have seen Chelsea rise to third in the table with four games remaining, putting them in prime position for a Champions League berth. Yet despite this achievement – as well as earning the club a spot in next month’s Europa League final against Benfica and being a key cog in the development of David Luiz and the resurgence of Petr Cech (who, at the moment is arguably the best goalkeeper in world football) – Benitez remains a very unpopular man.
To be fair, the Chelsea fans’ disdain for the Spaniard is at least somewhat understandable. His decision to pledge his love for Liverpool two weeks ago was nonsensical. Nevertheless, the feats he has managed to accomplish at Chelsea during his five month stint at the club are astounding. And it’s great to see the Premier League is finally taking notice.
Here’s to hoping that come the final day of the season, Blues supporters will as well.
Bayern Munich has confirmed that legendary goalscorer Gerd Muller is suffering from Alzheimer’s.
Muller’s 70th birthday is in November, and the club published a statement that no celebrations would be held due to his ongoing treatment.
One of the greatest strikers to ever play the game, Muller scored 525 goals during his 15-years with Bayern, the most in club history. Karl Heinze-Rummenigge is Bayern’s second leading goalscorer with 218 goals.
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Rummenigge currently serves as the club’s director, and spoke about Muller’s legacy.
Gerd Müller is one of the all-time greats of world football. Without his goals, Bayern Munich and German football would not be what it is today.
There will probably never be another goalscorer like Gerd, yet despite all his successes, he was always very humble and reserved, which particularly impressed me.
He was a fantastic team-mate and is a friend. Gerd will always enjoy a place in the Bayern family.
After he ended his playing career, he brought his experience as a coach of youngsters to the club, helping define the likes of world champions Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller, and we are also grateful to him for this.
Muller won the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup with ten goals, helping West Germany to a third-place finish. That same year he won the Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world, and helped the West German team capture the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974.
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He is one of the top scorers in German national team history with 68 goals, second only to Miroslav Klose’s 71. However, Muller reached 68 goals in just 62 caps, while it took Klose 137 appearances to reach his mark. His 14 World Cup goals are third all-time to Klose (16) and Ronaldo (14).
The United States U-23 team has gotten off to a great start in Olympic qualifying, winning their opening two matches by a combined score of 9-2.
Already into the semifinals, the U.S. faces Panama tonight in Colorado for a chance to stay perfect in Group A play. The U.S. needs a draw or a win to lock up the top spot in the group.
UPDATE: Due to Canada’s 2-2 draw against Cuba, the U.S. has clinched first place in Group A.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage ]
One of the keys to the United States’ success has been balance, as the team has nine goals from seven different players. Andreas Herzog’s side has also gotten off to quick starts in both matches, as Jordan Morris scored in the opening minute of play in a 3-1 win over Canada. Against Cuba, the U.S. had a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.
You can watch the match live on NBC Universo, or online by clicking the link below.
Group A — USA vs. Panama
When: 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, Commerce City, Colorado
Live Stream: Telemundo