Guardiola fields heavy criticism for weakened Bayern squad in defeat

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With Bayern Munich already champions of the Bundesliga, it’s no secret where their priorities now lie.

With a wide-open Champions League second leg due midweek, manager Pep Guardiola named a much-weakened side against Augsburg in the league yesterday, and it resulted in their first defeat since 2012.

Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm, and Franck Ribery weren’t even in the matchday squad, while Dante and Jerome Boateng were unused substitutes. Mario Gotze, Thomas Mueller, and Xherdan Shaqiri were brought off the bench.

Following the match, Guardiola was heavily criticized by many in the Bundesliga.

Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh told German media he believed Pep’s teamsheet was an insult to the Bundesliga and he got what he deserved.

“Of course you can lose against Augsburg,” said Veh. “But when I look at his lineup, I must say, he sealed his own fortune.”

The Bundesliga manager also said it’s not good for the competitive balance of the league. “If you do that against teams that play for the Europa League places or against relegation, I think that’s not good.”

Veh wasn’t the only one to comment on the selection. Schalke sporting director Horst Heldt, often in the media speaking on the future of his young star Julian Draxler, had a more humorous tone about Pep’s lineup.

“This is not a good look [for Bayern Munich]. Maybe they’ve got a lot of injuries.” Yeah, that’s it.

Guardiola defended his selection, saying, “If this had been important, then Philipp, Franck, and Arjen would all have been here. The Bundesliga is over – that’s in Bayern’s trophy case already and is staying there.”

For Pep, the risk is not just a loss in the Bundesliga but more importantly a loss of momentum.  Bayern have not won in a three-match stretch across all competitions, an eternity for this dream team.

Was Guardiola right to rest his stars with the second leg against Manchester United coming up? Or should he have gone for an unbeaten league season and a win heading into their midweek match?

Men In Blazers podcast: Mohamed Salah continues to shine

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo marvel at Mo Salah’s four goal, one dime haul in Liverpool’s 5-0 beatdown of Watford, analyze Jose Mourinho’s recent rants about football heritage at Manchester United, and recap Rog’s family trip to Stoke vs. Everton.

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1912 FA Cup winner’s medal stolen

South Yorkshire Police
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A 106-year-old footballing relic has been snatched from a house in England.

The home of the 82-year-old grandson of former Barnsley player Philip Bratley was burglarized last weekend according to the BBC and other reports, and among the items stolen was an “invaluable” FA Cup winner’s medal from 1912.

That year, Barnsley defeated West Bromwich Albion in the finals of the 41st FA Cup, with Bratley scoring the winning goal in the semifinal replay over Swindon Town. He went on to make over 100 appearances for Barnsley between 1910 and 1014 before moving transferring to Liverpool, where he spent one season before he left during the first World War.

“This item is of great sentimental value to the family and belonged to the 82-year-old victim’s grandfather who, at the time, played for Barnsley,” the South Yorkshire police said. “The family is extremely upset that this, along with many of their belongings, have been stolen. If you have any information please get in touch so we can try and reunite this invaluable item with its rightful owner.”

Barnsley has offered to assist the South Yorkshire police in their search for the stolen artifact, as those with any information are encouraged to contact either entity to share what they may know.

Griezmann sets pre-World Cup deadline for transfer future

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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French striker Antoine Griezmann is no stranger to seeing his name in the transfer rumor mill, but that familiarity doesn’t make it any more enjoyable for the Atletico Madrid attacker (who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday).

Long-tipped for a move to either Barcelona or Manchester United, Griezmann knows one thing: He wants his future sorted before the World Cup.

[ MORE: Key newcomers for USMNT friendly ]

“I want to travel to Russia without this concern,” he told L’Equipe. “It’s not about knowing where I’ll play, but about having the peace of mind if I’m still in one place or another.

“It may be boring, but I have told my sister that, whether I stay or not, this will have to be resolved beforehand. What bothers me the most is that everyone asks me about this issue.”

That’s both honest and reasonable, and we can imagine it’s not a blast to answer questions on your future every day. He also has a contract through 2021-22, which won’t make any transfer a simple one.

Griezmann has 23 goals and 13 assists in all competitions for Atleti this season, as La Liga’s second place side remains alive in the UEFA Europa League. He’s scored 106 goals for Atleti since arriving from Real Sociedad.

NYCFC signs second Homegrown Player in history

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Four years, two Homegrowns.

That’s the decent track record for New York City FC, which has spotted a second youngster from amongst its ranks in 15-year-old Joe Scally.

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Scally joins United States youth international James Sands as Homegrown Players from NYCFC. Here’s USMNT legend and NYCFC technical director Claudio Reyna:

“Joe has been one of the top performers in the Academy for the past few seasons and represented US Soccer at U-15 and U-17 level.”

“He has all of the attributes we look for in a right-back: he’s strong in defense and can support in attack to help create chances from wide areas.”

Sands was signed last summer, and played 23 minutes for NYCFC against Colorado in his lone senior appearance.