The Flying Dutchman Is Departing From Munich
Arjen Robben, the 35-year-old Dutch soccer legend, played his final game for Bayern Munich this past Saturday in the DFB Cup (German Cup) that saw the Bundesliga champions deliver a dominating 3-nil win against RB Leipzig that led to Bayern Munich hoisting that golden trophy.
Ending a 10-year career in Bavaria, Robben showcased his skills throughout the past decade throughout Germany, as well as before then with teams in Spain, England, and Holland. Of course, there are just a few highlights out there of when he’d start on the right side of the pitch and then cut inside to his favorable left foot for either a rocket of a shot back post.
Just a few.
Quick Stat: Arjen Robben scored 99 goals in the Bundesliga and nearly earned his 100th on a couple of occasions in his final league match a week and a half ago.
I could go on and on and on…and on about the properly rated and interestingly underrated talent of Arjen Robben in the era of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. For starters, with help from “Robbery” partner in crime Franck Ribéry, Robben helped define Bayern Munich for the past decade.
Here’s “Robbery” in action against Manchester United in a 2010 Champions League match in Old Trafford.
And then there’s the 2012/2013 season in which Bayern Munich won the amazing treble (Bundesliga, German Cup, Champions League) with help from, guess who?
But now it’s time to say a Bavarian goodbye to Mr. Wembley (or The Flying Dutchman) as we wait for him to announce his future plans, which will either be retirement or one final tour of playing with a not-yet-determined club. I actually got to see Arjen Robben play in the Allianz Arena for a Champions League game against Atlético Madrid back in late 2016. Bayern Munich won 1-nil on a Robert Lewandowski goal in, let’s say, chilly weather. I believe the thermometer read 20-degrees.
Regardless of having to wear a couple extra layers, which was no big deal at all for the awesome prize of seeing Arjen Robben and Bayern Munich battle (and defeat!) Atlético Madrid in a Champions League match inside the stunning Allianz Arena in Munich. The entire experience was amazingly unforgettable.
Returning back to the Bavarian goodbye, Bayern Munich produced a fitting farewell with words of gratitude from the star winger.
Until next season, Arjen Robben?
The Beautiful Game’s Russian Blemish?
And the 2018 World Cup groupings are…
- Group A: Egypt, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uruguay
- Group B: Iran, Morocco, Portugal, Spain
- Group C: Australia, Denmark, France, Peru
- Group D: Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria
- Group E: Brazil, Costa Rica, Serbia, Switzerland
- Group F: Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Sweden
- Group G: Belgium, England, Panama, Tunisia
- Group H: Colombia, Japan, Poland, Senegal
Way Too Early Predictions of the Group Winner & Runner-Up are in bold.
Instant Reaction: There’s no “Group of Death” and the 2018 World Cup in Russia will showcase a seemingly underwhelming collection of the (supposedly) best 32 national soccer teams in the world. Without any matches even occurring, one of the major stories related to next summer’s competition is the group of prominent nations that won’t stepping onto soccer’s biggest, brightest stage.
Slightly Longer Reaction: Despite some of soccer’s most notable nations and their leading star players and, in some cases, burgeoning international soccer brands noticeably absent (the United States with Christian Pulisic, Italy with Gianluigi Buffon, Netherlands with Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, Chile with Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sánchez, Austria with David Alaba and Wales with Gareth Bale), a World Cup provides the ideal opportunity to elevate the sport’s next big name who presently flies beneath the radar focused almost exclusively on Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Manuel Neuer. Think back to 2010 and 2014 with Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben of the Dutch and Uruguay’s sniper and FIFA’s 2010 World Cup Golden Ball winner (tournament’s best player) Diego Forlán.
Who’s going to deliver a World Cup performance akin to Diego Forlán or Arjen Robben? Watch out for Poland’s Robert Lewandowski, France’s tank Paul Pogba and its talented youth movement, Argentina’s Paulo Dybala, Brazil’s speedster on the flank Douglas Costa and Germany’s Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Müller, for starters.
*Also, keep an eye on the fundamentally sound players for Japan regarding ball control. Trust me.
Insanely Early World Cup Final Prediction: How about Germany vs. Argentina, a repeat of the 2014 World Cup Final that so the Germans lift soccer’s greatest trophy? I may go back-and-forth several times in the next few months for giving Germany or France the advantage in a potential game to reach the final that would be determined by a razor-thin margin, as of right now.
When was the last time a World Cup Final featured the same two national teams in consecutive cycles? Glad you asked. It was 1986 and 1990 between, that’s right, Argentina and West Germany. Argentina won in 1986 and West Germany hoisted the golden trophy to the soccer gods in 1990. Furthermore, West Germany was the runner-up to Itlay in the 1982 World Cup.
Crazy Early and Stressful World Cup Champions Prediction: Argentina (see paragraph above for intriguing precedent occurring again)
More importantly, this could be Messi’s last best chance to win a World Cup for his legacy (he’s 30-years-old), which could be the special “it” factor for Argentina against its toughest opponents in Russia next summer. Cristiano Ronaldo (will be 33-years-old next summer) has that incentive too, but Portugal’s squad may or may not be equipped to string together a magical World Cup title run.
a couple weeks six-and-a-half months from the thrilling, world-class opening June 14 match of the 2018 World Cup in Russia that will feature global superpowers host Russia and Saudi Arabia. Remember that slightly underwhelming dynamic surrounding this World Cup mentioned earlier in this blog post?
There’s just no concealing it.
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
soccerfootball 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!