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It’s About to Get Real in Munich

Two European and global footballing giants will battle tomorrow night (2:45 p.m. ET in the U.S.) in Germany:

Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.

In last year’s UEFA Champions League quarterfinal brace, Real Madrid toppled then Pep Guardiola’s final squad in Munich 2-1 and then 4-2. Cristiano Ronaldo & Co.—coached by former star player and current star manager Zinedine Zidane—took down the German leaders with an exclamation point on their way to their second Champions League crown in a row.

But now it’s 2018.

And the Bayern Munich treble-winning coach Jupp Heynckes is on the sidelines once more. Since returning last fall, Mr. Heynckes has reinvigorated Bayern Munich into a formidable force after a disastrous spell with Carlo Ancelotti. Perhaps he can guide the Bundesliga champions to another treble? That’s what he was hired to do, after all. He didn’t leave retirement for a place in the Champions League semifinals.

This highly-anticipated matchup is set for tomorrow, which promises to be a showcase of world-class talent on both sides of the pitch.

Real Madrid is pursuing a new Champions League treble of sorts, while Bayern Munich is looking to return to their past treble-winning way.


Bayern Munich Is Not Loyola-Chicago

Lionel Messi and Barcelona did not earn their way into the final four of the UEFA Champions League after a shocking 3-nil defeat against Roma that sent Roma to the semifinals based on away goals. Whoa.

“Of course that was a warning,” Robben told reporters. “It shows that everything can happen in football.”

And you thought college basketball had a monopoly on madness this time of year.

Soccer is the world’s game and one of this sport’s eternal truths is that anything can happen. The biggest clubs can dominate or stumble in spectacular fashion (see above). That’s part of soccer’s beauty. Another part of this sport’s amazing DNA is that–if approached with hard work, tact, talent, and patience–teams can set themselves up to peak at exactly the right time.

Enter the 2017/2018 Bayern Munich squad.

(Click “Watch this video on YouTube” and then return back to Jimmy’s Daily Planet to finish the article!)

Will Bayern Munich win the Champions League en route to another treble under the management of world-class coach Jupp Heynckes? We’ll see soon.

Most pundits have been critical of Bayern Munich this season outside the Bundesliga. Fair points have been made here and there, I suppose. Still, they’ve been tagged–as a result of a few less than stellar/perfect performances–with an underdog tag for the Champions League.

Well, those same “experts” may want to review the tape and “underdog” roster of Bayern Munich one more time…

because Liverpool, Roma, and Real Madrid certainly are.

The draw for the semifinal matchups is this Friday. Stay tuned to Jimmy’s Daily Planet for the must-see fixtures.

P.S. Bayern Munich has dominated the Bundesliga and has qualified for the UEFA Champions League semifinal without Manuel Neuer. Or, in other words, the world’s best goalkeeper. How many other clubs could do that? Just saying. 

Are We Watching the World Flatten Out?

If you would have told me 10 years ago that Facebook would be providing footage of a UEFA Champions League quarterfinal match free of charge…

I would have thought you were crazy.

Earlier today, because a certain cable provider that has chosen to invest in rebranding, marketing and just about everything else except for quality, I was left with the option of following virtual text updates for the first leg of the UEFA Champions League game between Sevilla and Bayern Munich. Then, I had an idea. After the TV and ESPN app options provided a nil-nil result, I logged into Facebook. And there, before my eyes, one click away was the Fox Soccer Channel’s video and commentary feed of the aforementioned game via Facebook Live.

Simply incredible in more ways than one.

One: Social media has effectively entered some of the biggest sports broadcasting stadiums and games around the world in real-time, albeit at a seemingly small-scale at the moment.

Two: The Facebook Live video (with quality commentary) was/is free.

For a social networking platform that is rightfully being criticized for privacy issues, this is one positive story for Mark Zuckerberg’s company this week. While Facebook Live isn’t new, the Sevilla vs. Bayern Munich game earlier today highlights that–much like the communications industry–broadcasting sports games has entered a new phase that could prove to have good and bad consequences by flattening out through technological innovation.

Is the Pay-Per-View model slowly nearing the antiquated tech graveyard? How does cable TV respond concerning its sports packages if this isolated game, presumably available to fans (and Facebook users) around the country and the world, evolves into the rule and not the exception? Is this a good thing? A bad thing? Should there be some exclusive reward for purchasing/investing in premium cable channels and packages? How will (or does) privacy issues play into using Facebook Live, YouTube Live or similar streaming services while logged in as a user? How should we consume a variety of live television programs?

One thing I know for certain at this point is that I watched Bayern Munich score two critical away goals in a 2-1 win at Sevilla with an enjoyable post-game recap by a Fox Soccer Channel host and two analysts.

Lots of questions to ponder. So, round-and-round we’ll go.

The Optical Delusion of Arsenal’s Arsène

New career need: Reality Translators.

Leaders in the modern world continue to view black and white situations in clouds of utter disbelief. From business leaders to politicians to presidential wannabes to ship captains to sports figures to members of the media to celebrities and so on and so forth, far too many people in positions of power and influence just cannot admit failure and concede defeat. There’s always a caveat and the end result can never make that individual look poorly, entitled or (dare it be written), wrong. To say it’s frustrating to watch this continuous spectacle would be a massive understatement.

It would be like trying to claim victory after a loss.

The latest example of this impenetrable manager in today’s society is Arsenal’s head coach Arsène Wenger. The Gunners’ UEFA Champions League woes during the past several seasons (as predictable as rain in England) continued yesterday after the underdog squad from Monaco advanced to the quarterfinals of the most prestigious club tournament in the world. Scoring 3 away goals in a shocking 3-1 victory at Emirates Stadium in London a couple weeks ago was enough padding to advance following a 2-nil loss at home against the relentlessly firing Arsenal.

Make no mistake about it, this was a spectacular upset. David v. Goliath. Even with Arsenal’s recent troubles in Champions League play, losing to Monaco was never supposed to happen…and this includes on PlayStation and Xbox.

And what was Arsène Wenger’s reaction after suffering a major upset against the club he managed more than 20 years ago? BBC Sport got the most telling reaction.

Asked if Monaco deserved to progress, Wenger said: “I don’t believe so.”

“If you look at the number of shots on target they had you will be surprised. Every defeat hurts but we didn’t lose.”

Yes, you did.

(FYI – Mr. Wenger: In soccer, it doesn’t matter how many shots are on target, it matters how many goals go in the net).

In a word, the Frenchman is delusional. Let’s add a couple more words: discourteous and unprofessional. Soccer is fluid, unpredictable and ripe for the unthinkable to happen and this tie (soccer slang for 2-game series) proved why games need to played and not predetermined on television. His team lost and Monaco won, pure and simple. It’s long past the point where listening to these sincerely unbelievable explanations by leaders in power who fail or mislead people is genuinely dispiriting.

Just ask fans of Arsenal and Monaco.