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Happy Monday!

Breaking News: Zinedine Zidane is pulling a Jupp Heynckes and coming out of retirement (of sorts) to return to European powerhouse Real Madrid where he won multiple Champions League titles with during the past few years.

Following the embarrassing Champions League series loss against Ajax just last week–highlighted by the 4-1 loss at Santiago Bernabéu Stadium by the team from Amsterdam–coupled with less-than-stellar performances in La Liga this season, Real Madrid has been in veritable crisis mode. It’s the reality of incredibly high expectations for a club that’s been the king of the Champions League with Mr. Zidane as their manager.

And now Real Madrid’s real leader has returned. Of course, winning the Champions League is not an option in 2019. Catching Barcelona, a team that’s 12-points ahead of Real Madrid, for the La Liga title also seems unlikely in 2019. So what’s left?

Mr. Zidane must right the ship immediately by basically winning out the remainder of the 2018/2019 schedule with style and renewed energy while searching for his new Cristiano Ronaldo. Real Madrid will be looking to throw insane amounts of money for its next world-class x-factor. And finding this player where “x marks the spot” will be Mr. Zidane’s greatest challenge.

Oddly enough for Real Madrid, that spot marked by x (well, actually three x’s) may very well be located in Amsterdam. Just ask Barcelona.

Have a Better Week Than Last Week. 

P.S. I  have to say that I called Ajax upsetting Real Madrid in their Champions League series. However, I definitely did not foresee the blowout win that transpired. That was shocking. Who saw that coming? In Madrid no less! Now hopefully Bayern Munich can pull off a similar upset against Liverpool this Wednesday at the Allianz Arena. 

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Arsene(al) is Done

Those on the inside, as well as fans on the outside, may finally be united in declaring the following:

Arsène Wenger’s reign over Arsenal is (unofficially) over. And as of right now in 2017, Arsenal is (at least temporarily) done as a world footballing powerhouse.

Why “unofficially”?

Despite the chronic problems Mr. Wenger, the 67 year-old Frenchman, has managed (and reinforced) during the past several years as the club’s head coach, he did deliver many great seasons and players in the years prior. Moreover, if Arsène Wenger was going to be fired mid-season, then he would have received his walking papers during the second half of the Champions League match against Bayern Munich earlier this week. Mr. Wenger will, it appears, be given the respect to finish out the 2016/2017 season. The 5-1 loss to Bayern Munich this past Tuesday in London (the second 5-1 loss in the two-game Champions League series against the German giants), again, “unofficially” ended the Wenger Era at Arsenal.

(Press Play, then click “Watch this video on YouTube” and then RETURN to read the remainder of this blog post!)

After this season ends, however, Mr. Wenger and Arsenal have to part ways. This moment is unambiguous, even to the painfully reluctant owners of Arsenal with the power to hire and fire the manager.

But there is a significant risk to giving Mr. Wenger the managerial elasticity to finish the current English Premier League campaign. Arsenal is currently in fifth place, having a dreadful past few weeks. If Mr. Wenger can inspire his players unlike games prior (seriously doubtful), then the new Arsenal manager (TBD) will have the potential for immediate redemption in the 2017/2018 Champions League. But if Mr. Wenger can’t inspire his players to find that missing greatness on the pitch (seriously plausible), then the new Arsenal manager will have to sit-out of the Champions League for the 2017/2018 season.

The Gunners are engaging in the tricky dynamic of Risk v. Respect. Both options are understandable.

Moving forward though, what good is a canon if it only shoots blanks and completely fails to intimidate its targets?

Predictable? Yes. Unstoppable? Also Yes.

What is it the kids say these days? “Flashback Friday”?

For one very specific reason, I’m glad the kids do. Actually, I’m technically happy for five specific reasons. But those added four take a back seat to the aforementioned one on this Friday. And don’t worry, you’ll see why and how I arrived at that conclusion shortly.

If you survived that linguistic adventure, then congrats! In human speak, Bayern Munich hosted Arsenal for the first game of the round of 16 in the UEFA Champions League. Due to the very nature of the home-and-away game setup, the home side has the burden of scoring many goals while not conceding the always valuable away goal.

The bad news is that Bayern Munich did let one of those away goals slip past their goal line (even after an incredible penalty kick save by Manuel Neuer).

The good news is that Bayern Munich managed to score one…two…three…four…yes, five goals against Arsenal at their Fortress of Winning (a nickname I’m trying out) known as the Allianz Arena!

Ladies and gentlemen, the aforementioned one moment isolated for this “Flashback Friday”comes from two days ago. But trust me, it’s definitely worth the immediate flashback treatment.

(Watch the entire highlight to see the ball’s ridiculously awesome path to the back of the net)

Wait, I thought Arsenal’s nickname was “The Gunners”?

I say that because it looks like Arjen Robben’s left foot should be the one declared a sharpshooter with laser precision.

I Still Have Chills

A soccer match not to be forgotten.

Last Tuesday, my parents and I were in attendance for the bone-chilling Champions League game between two of the best soccer teams in the world: Hosts Bayern Munich and visitors Atlético Madrid. Despite the fact that the latter had clinched the first spot in the group before kickoff (the former secured the second spot), there was a lot on the line.

  • Bayern Munich needed to prove it could defeat Atlético Madrid after suffering multiple losses recently.
  • Manager Carlo Ancelotti had to assure the Munich faithful that his brand of soccer football could show promise for winning a Champions League trophy, which will more than likely have to go through Atlético Madrid at some point next spring.

With the temperature in the mid-20s accompanied by a fog that created a cloud inside the confines of the massively impressive Allianz Arena, the game conditions forced the visitors to bundle up and huddle up in a circle for most of their warm-ups and the hosts going about their business as usual.

Pride in club and pride in the future of this season was on the line.

(Click Play, then “Click this video on YouTube” and then please return to this blog)

Bayern Munich 1-0 Atlético Madrid! 

Seeing my favorite team (Bayern Munich) and favorite player (Arjen Robben) in-person and in their home stadium was a thrill of a lifetime. From Robben’s unique and separate warm-up routine to his 83 minutes of brilliant play on the pitch, witnessing one of the greatest soccer players in the world and of his generation was truly epic. And even as the bone-chilling weather was piercing through every layer of my clothes, I’ve never been so happy to be as freezing cold as I was for the hours before, during and after this game.

Bayern Munich’s motto is “Mia San Mia,” which translates to “We are who we are.”

Having now been to a Bayern Munich game at the Allianz Arena, I have a deeper understanding of just what “Mia San Mia” means.

P.S. Thanks Mom and Dad for the unforgettable experience and the amazing seats!