Used to be when Barcelona traveled south to Madrid to face the La Liga title challengers, we were talking about a Clasico, another mammoth Barca-Real Madrid meeting. This time around it was Atletico Madrid doing the challenging, as the pair of La Liga co-leaders met in Spain.
Only, the ongoing La Liga chase was reduced somewhat to subplot as we all wondered what role Leo Messi, the brightest light among a bunch of them here, would play in this one.
Messi, only recently having rejoined the team from injury, did not start; there he was on the bench, all bundled up in a big overcoat alongside his talented Brazilian teammate Neymar. He was watching the beginning of an eventual 0-0 draw, although one that had style aplenty from two very good clubs.
Atletico attacker Diego Costa, a real La Liga powerhouse this year, had come closest for Diego Simone’s club before halftime in a match of tremendous ebb and flow. Messi did, indeed, enter at halftime, replacing Barca midfielder playmaker Andres Iniesta.
Neymar would later replace Alexis Sanchez, but still no breakthrough for the Blaugrana at the Vicente Calderón Stadium.
Messi, appearing to move with some caution, did wiggle free here and there. But his best chances were an off-balance effort didn’t give goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois any real trouble and a free kick that bounced harmlessly off a wall. It was not exactly the display he wanted just two days before FIFA’s Ballon d’Or is announced (which already appeared to be going elsewhere).
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.
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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