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.

Gressel ties it in Atlanta United’s 1-1 draw with Timbers

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ATLANTA (AP) Julian Gressel tied it in the 56th minute and Atlanta United held on for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

A loose ball deflection off defender Larrys Mabiala bounced into Gressel’s path and he pounced on it with a right-footed volley. Atlanta (10-3-4) stayed atop the MLS standings and extended its unbeaten streak to five games.

Mabiala opened the scoring in the 32nd minute. Samuel Armenteros was the first to get a touch with a left-footed stab on Diego Valeri’s free kick. Goalkeeper Brad Guzan blocked it out, but Mabiala headed home the rebound and Portland took the early lead.

The Timbers (6-3-5) extended their unbeaten run to nine.

MLS: NYCFC beat TFC in new coach Torrent’s debut

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jo Inge Berget scored twice and coach Domenec Torrent celebrated his New York City FC debut with a 2-1 victory over Toronto FC on Sunday.

Berget made it 2-1 in the 68th minute, following Maximiliano Moralez’s direct pass up the right channel and slotting it home.

NYCFC (9-3-4) tied it at 1 in the 51st minute on Berget’s back heel from the top of the 6-yard box.

Víctor Vazquez opened the scoring for Toronto (4-8-3) in the 37th minute. Vasquez outran his defender on Auro’s long ball up the right side and sent a chip shot over the onrushing goalkeeper.

NYCFC’s David Villa left the game in the 28th minute with a non-contact injury.

Torrent replaced Patrick Vieira in New York shortly after Vieira’s departure for OGC Nice was officially confirmed. Torrent had been the right-hand man to Pep Guardiola for the last 11 years, most recently at Manchester City.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 12 — Time to settle Groups A & B

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Day 12 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Monday, and with it begins the final round of group games to decide the 16 teams headed to the knockout rounds. For the next four days, we’ll be treated to four games each day.

Also, the end of 8 a.m. ET kickoffs. Hooray for sleeping in.

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

First up, the conclusion of Group A, where both the hosts, Russia, and Uruguay have already advanced with wins in their first two games. Now, the two meet in the southwestern city of Samara to determine who’ll go through to the round of 16 as the group winners, and who’ll be the runners-up. Most likely awaiting either of them will be Spain and Portugal, pending the order in which they finish in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Speaking of Group B, Spain will finish group play against fourth-place and points-less Morocco, while Portugal have a tricky meeting with third-place Iran, who sit just a point behind the reigning European champions. The winner of Group B will face the runners-up of Group A, and vice versa.

Below is Monday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Monday, June 25

Group A
Uruguay vs. Russia: Samara, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt: Volgograd, 10 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group B
Spain vs. Morocco: Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Iran vs. Portugal: Saransk, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Transfer rumor roundup: Emery raiding Sevilla; Wilshere’s suitor(s)

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Unai Emery has reportedly been in contact with at least one former player, Ever Banega, in an attempt to convince the Argentine midfielder to join him at Arsenal.

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Banega, who’ll turn 30 on Friday, played two seasons under Emery at Sevilla — where they won back-to-back Europa League titles (Banega was only at the club for the second and third of three straight from 2013-2016).

With Banega reportedly on the fence about whether or not to leave Sevilla again — he only just returned last summer after one season at Inter Milan — Emery is said to have made a personal call after Arsenal’s bid of roughly $23 million triggered the release clause in Banega’s contract. Sevilla will join Arsenal in the Europa League next season after finishing seventh in La Liga.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Jack Wilshere announced last week that he will leave Arsenal this summer — thus opening up the handful of games for which he was healthy and fit to play each season, perhaps for Banega — which leads us nicely to the final bit of transfer talk for Sunday: West Ham are interested in the 26-year-old, but are reportedly only willing to offer him a one-year contract.

The Hammers’ hesitancy is, of course, a response to his years-long battle with injuries — he’s made just 66 appearances over the last four PL seasons (three with Arsenal, one on loan to Bournemouth).

Two other clubs to keep an eye on, as they’ve reportedly indicated interest in Wilshere and/or been in contact already: Everton and Juventus.