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Casillas: ‘Maybe it’s good for us to receive a wake-up call’

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Iker Casillas is under no illusions as to how Real Madrid got through. After a 2-0 loss on Tuesday at the Westfalenstadion, the Merengues are into their fourth straight semifinal, but not before being handed some lessons along the way.

“Maybe it’s good for us to receive a wake-up call like that from time to time,” Casillas said after his team  advanced with a 3-2 aggregate victory over Borussia Dortmund. “It’s better that it came tonight and not in the upcoming games we have.”

Given Real Madrid’s mid-March slip, it may be hard to convince Madridistas today was an isolated circumstance. Though the team wasn’t blown out in recent losses to Barcelona and Sevilla, it still displayed the same shortcomings that were on display in Westfalia.

With mistakes from Pepe and Aiser Irrallemendi, Real Madrid proved as mistake-prone as ever, while the same mental frailty wasted the momentum the team carried into the last Clasico was on evident again in Dortmund.

(MORE: Real Madrid survives Reus, Borussia Dortmund, reaches fourth straight Champions League semifinal)

“The first goal we conceded was from our mistake and the second came from another error in midfield,” Casillas conceded. “We also missed a penalty. The good thing was that we then knew how to deal with being under pressure.”

It’s a generous assessment, and had Real Madrid stopped conceding chances after Marco Reus’s second goal, it would have been an accurate one. Yet second half opportunities for Hanrikh Mkhitarayan and Kevin Großkreutz exposed a Real Madrid that did little to stop its hosts.

While the match’s final 15 minutes saw a more stable team see out its quarterfinal victory, the game could have easily gone the other way. Real Madrid did not deal with the pressure very well.

The only player that seemed to raise his game was Casillas. In the second half, particularly with his late stop on Grosskreutz, the Real Madrid veteran responded to the stakes, with his intensity standing in stark contrast to the performance he got from his defense. Whatever weak links los Blancos carried to Dortmund, Casillas was not among them.

Against a injury-riddled side, it was a surprisingly poor performance, yet the team still lives to play another day. The dream of a decima is still alive.

But having reached the point where the club has been eliminated in each of the last three years, Real Madrid will have to improve. If Tuesday doesn’t prove to be a wakeup call, the Merengues will miss out on another final.

Columbus, NYCFC release new kits to mixed results

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New York City FC
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Two Major League Soccer clubs have put their kits out there for the 2016 season. They’ve received a mediocre welcome at best.

Columbus was the first, and their kit makes a bold statement moving away from the traditional yellow and black that so often adorns their regular shirts. Instead, the kit incorporates the Columbus flag onto it. The release has seen quite a negative reaction on social media.

The kit was unveiled at the Columbus City Hall on Wednesday, featuring the traditional adidas stripes, although instead of the usual placement on the shoulders, the stripes come down the side of the torso. Recently, adidas has the tendency to copy general jersey patterns across its multiple properties, so look for this design with other clubs in the near future.

The negative reaction to the Columbus release isn’t terribly surprising considering fans often enjoy sticking to tradition, and backlash is common when clubs deviate from the norm. As an additional hurdle, the color contrast between red and yellow is somewhat stark, lending to the difficult reception. Add in the bright pastel blue shorts and…yikes.

While the club didn’t describe how they will utilize this kit during the season, it’s likely to be the primary (at least for now) as the club release says the kit portfolio also includes last year’s black kit, which is traditionally the away kit.

NYCFC’s release of their secondary kit was more positive, receiving a mixed response on social media.

As you can see, adidas again copied their general outline with the stripes down the side of the torso. However, the German clothing manufacturer did much better with the general design of these kits than the Columbus ones. I will give a bit of personal opinion here: I absolutely love these kits. The ripple effect accentuates the crest with a near-3D effect, and the colors mesh perfectly which serves to assuage the eye from being overwhelmed by a busy design. If there’s any criticism, it’s that without an outline, the Etihad logo tends to get in the way a bit, but that’s nitpicking. Well done NYCFC. Columbus…I’ll leave that one to you all.

Men In Blazers podcast: Romelu Lukaku Pod Special

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Rog and Davo break down Leicester City’s 3 – 1 win at Manchester City, marvel at Spurs going second in the table, and talk about the headlines surrounding the mid-table clash between Chelsea and United.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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FA Cup recap: West Brom survives with penalty win over Peterborough

PETERBOROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 10:  Darren Fletcher of West Bromwich Albion celebrates with team-mate Saido Berahino after scoring his team's first goal during the Emirates FA Cup fourth round replay match between Peterborough United and West Bromwich Albion at ABAX Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Peterborough, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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West Brom is the last team through to the FA Cup fifth round with a penalty win over Peterborough United after a 1-1 draw in their replay at ABAX Stadium.

Down 1-0 10 minutes after the halftime break, Darren Fletcher scored the equalizer in the 71st minute, and that scoreline lasted through regulation and extra time. Fletcher missed a penalty in the shootout, but Baggies goalkeeper Ben Foster saved twice to put West Brom through.

[ MORE: Full schedule for every PL club ]

Other than the penalty shootout, things were quite even throughout the match. Posh actually lead slightly on possession, and had an 8-5 shots-on-target advantage as well. Jon Taylor was the man to score for Peterborough, putting them 1-0 ahead shortly after halftime. The 23-year-old midfielder also scored in the 2-2 draw at The Hawthornes in the original matchup.

West Brom will now take on Reading in the fifth round, a team that hammered Walsall 4-0 in their fourth round meeting. Reading currently sits 15th in the Championship table

VIDEO: Alejandro Bedoya scores extra-time winner for Nantes in Coupe de France

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Alejandro Bedoya of the United States controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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With USMNT World Cup qualifying not far away, Jurgen Klinsmann will certainly look to club performances to find out which of his players are grasping club opportunities by the horns.

One US national teamer in great form is Alejandro Bedoya. The 28-year-old has scored four times across all competitions since January 23rd, and his latest is a massive one. Bedoya sent Nantes to the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France with a 118th-minute winner against Bordeaux.

Bedoya has been a lightning rod for Nantes the past two or three seasons, but something he struggled for occasionally is consistent game time. Not anymore. The American has started five of their last six league matches, and since returning from some time off due to illness, Bedoya has featured in the starting lineup in nine of 11 Ligue 1 matches. What’s more, he’s finished the full 90 minutes in seven of those.

Klinsmann has looked to Bedoya in the past for a combination of electricity and defensive ability on the wing. Now, he may bring both endurance and a goalscoring threat to international competitions, which would go a long way in raising his national team stock.