Highlights and context: Bayern Munich complete transcendent semifinal, eliminate Barcelona

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This game wasn’t supposed to play out like this. Over the first 45 minutes, sure, Bayern Munich had the better chances, but they weren’t attacking with the same abandon that they did in Germany. Theirs was a restrained imposition – a team more intent on containing than exploiting, tactics born out of the 4-0 lead they carried into the Nou Camp.

But most machines have but a few functions. Bayern’s has two that most soccer teams share, even if they seem to do both better than any other team in the world. They prevent goals, and they score goals, and through 45 minutes at the Nou Camp, they were only performing one of those tasks.

In the second half at Barcelona, they got back to business. Three minutes in, Arjen Robben scored as Arjen Robben of a goal as you will ever see. Left-footed curler from the right of the area? Nobody would be surprised if the Dutch winger literally did that in his sleep. The only marvel on Wednesday was how he was allowed to do that while he’s awake.

Twenty-four minutes later, Bayern forced Gerard Piqué into an own goal — the low-point of Barcelona’s 180-minute nightmare –before Thomas Müller headed home Bayern Munich’s seventh goal of the tie. For the home team, the night couldn’t end soon enough.

Independent of what happened last week in Munich, this was an embarrassing result. Barcelona? Losing 3-0 at home? That just doesn’t happen. And it wasn’t meant to happen. Bayern were playing nice at the beginning, going into halftime without scoring a goal.

But perhaps Bayern can’t stop themselves. They’re addicted, left in withdrawals when they’re not being dominant to the point of pressing our imaginations: When have we ever seen a team perform at this level? Because Bayern just completed one of the more memorable routs in Champions League history.

Highlights courtesy of FOX Soccer.

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.