If Bayern triumph in Champions League, could we have a dynasty on our hands?

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Bayern Munich are set for their third Champions League final in four years, and while they haven’t won it since 2001, victory Saturday would firmly cement them as the team to beat for a year.

But many will ask the question, if victory finds its way to the Bavarians – will they be the team to beat for a long time?

Barcelona have been that club for a number of years, thanks to the consistent winning attitude Pep Guardiola brought to the Camp Nou 2008.  Barca have always been a force, but since Guardiola’s taking charge and Lionel Messi’s emergence as the consensus best player in the world, it’s been a “Barcelona or the field” mentality.

So what did Bayern do to the Catalan giants with Pep gone and Messi hurt? Just beat them 7-0 on aggregate.  While Messi is obviously going to be around for a while longer, the question “are Barcelona still the team to beat” is now more valid than ever.

Sure, this is all contingent on Bayern winning this weekend.  If they don’t, no matter what they do in the next calendar year, the past will dominate the conversation about the club, not the future.

If they can lift the trophy this season, after winning the Bundesliga by a staggering 25 points and shattering the league’s points record with 91, it could be nowhere but up for Bayern.

The league has been no match for Munich this season. Dortmund have been the only squad to give the Bavarians any trouble whatsoever this season, and they still haven’t been able to beat Bayern, drawing two league ties and losing two cup finals.

Their league success this season: 29 wins, 4 draws, 1 loss. Two of the four draws, like I mentioned, were to fellow Champions League finalists.  The loss came wayyyy back in October to Bayer Leverkusen who finished in third, a measly point behind Dortmund.  And they haven’t lost in the league cup, beating Dortmund in the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal and scheduled for the finals against Stuttgart on June 1.

Their Champions League success this season: they blasted through the group stage of the Champions League, scoring 15 goals and conceding 7 (3 of those in a silly loss at BATE Borisov with the club’s best-ever start to a season on the line).  Their one slip up in the knockout round came in a 2-0 loss to Arsenal in the second leg at the Emirates, but still advanced on away goals. They torched Juventus 4-0 on aggregate – the same Juventus that ran through Serie A this season relatively uncontested. Then came Barcelona – and there went Barcelona, 7-0.

Following hypothetical victory this weekend, they’ll inject even more talent and knowledge into the club.  That man Pep who brought Barcelona to heights previously unknown is set to take charge next season, Mario Gotze has already completed his defection from Borussia Dortmund, and Robert Lewandowski is rumored to be following suit.

Could anyone beat them? Take a club that’s achieved what they have this year – possibly a treble and a ridiculous league points total – and add the best managerial mind in the game, a 20-year-old German sensation, and one of the deadliest strikers in the game.

Is that even fair? Other top clubs may very well find out in the years to come that it’s not.

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

Pete Christopher//The Oregonian via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Ederson harbors no ill will after Mane’s personal apology

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As far as Ederson is concerned, Sadio Mane‘s studs-to-face assault is a thing of the past — save for, the elongated scar he’ll likely wear on the left side of his face for the rest of his life, of course.

[ PL ROUNDUP: Goals galore on a wild Saturday ]

The Manchester City goalkeeper, who was forced from his side’s 5-0 victory over Liverpool on Sept. 9 after his face was raked by the studs of the Reds’ star attacker, revealed this weekend that he received — and accepted — Mane’s personal apology in the days immediately thereafter — quotes from Goal.com:

“Yes, I had contact with him, he sent me a message. I told him to stay calm, those things happen inside the pitch, it could happen anytime. I told him to not worry and wished him a good season.”

“I ended up having a hard hit in the face, but in the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I felt a strong kick, but I was always conscious. I knew it had been a long cut. I wanted to keep playing but, for medical issues, I couldn’t keep playing.

“But I was always conscious, even if I had my face a little bit swollen. But after a week it was normal again. In the same week, I was ready to play in Champions League. I faced that game full of confidence again, without any fear and happy for the result we achieved.”

Bundesliga: Leverkusen throttle HSV; Hannover remain unbeaten

Marius Becker/dpa via AP
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BERLIN (AP) Three days after being cleared to play by FIFA, Argentine striker Lucas Alario scored one goal and set up another on his debut for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Hamburger SV 3-0 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

Alario struck midway through the first half, converting a cross from Leon Bailey, who also set up Kevin Volland’s opening goal just three minutes before.

A moment of class from Julian Brandt sent Alario through with less than 10 minutes remaining, and the Argentine had the awareness to spot the better-positioned Volland to seal the win.

Alario went off moments later to warm applause from fans.

“The goal is the cream on top. He played very well, scored the goal and combined with others. He worked well coming back and his first goal wasn’t so easy to score,” Leverkusen coach Heiko Herrlich said.

Alario’s first appearance for Leverkusen was held up when previous club River Plate objected to his transfer through the Argentine soccer association (AFA), which denied his playing rights.

The Buenos Aires-based club contended that Alario’s transfer was invalid as Leverkusen paid his release clause of $28.6 million on Aug. 31, after the Argentine season began, which it said was against FIFA rules.

Leverkusen then took the case to FIFA, which ruled in its favor on Thursday.

Leverkusen’s second win in six games eased the pressure on new coach Herrlich after a difficult start.

Counterpart Markus Gisdol remains in need of a change in fortune, however, after four straight defeats. Hamburg next faces Werder Bremen, Mainz and Bayern Munich.


Cologne fought its way to its first point in a 0-0 draw at promoted Hannover after starting the Bundesliga with five straight defeats.

Now the last-place side hopes it can build on the point.

“The luck will come back and the chances we had today will go in,” Cologne goalkeeper Timo Horn said. “We’ll start winning the games again. But the precondition was this performance that we delivered today.”

Peter Stoeger’s side, which has scored only one goal all season, hasn’t netted in its last four league games. That highlighted the extent to which Cologne relied on French striker Anthony Modeste, sold in the offseason in a big-money move to Chinese side Tianjin Quanjian.

Modeste scored 25 Bundesliga goals for Cologne last season. His replacement, former Mainz striker Jhon Cordoba, is yet to score in six games.

“We all have to be satisfied with the draw,” said Hannover general manager Horst Heldt, whose fourth-place side remains one of three unbeaten in the Bundesliga this season.

Hannover coach Andre Breitenreiter remained unbeaten in 15 games across two divisions.