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.
The Munich Empire Takes Rome
Rome’s defensive force just isn’t what it used to be.
Bundesliga juggernaut Bayern Munich traveled to Rome for a Champions League match against AS Roma yesterday. In the dawn of this season, FC Holywood was struggling (meaning they actually lost and/or tied a game or two). These minor hiccups (following a successful, hard fought World Cup for many of its star players mind you) are extrapolated because the expectations continue to be astronomical for Pep Guardiola after guiding a golden generation at Barcelona and the fact that he had the impossible task of directly following Jupp Heynckes’ record-breaking, treble winning season. Actually, Pep’s won everything Jupp did in that unforgettable 2012-2013 season, except a Champions league title. Sort of a big omission. Pep had a few words about his strategy in the disastrous semi-final leg versus Real Madrid, but this is a family-friendly blog. To paraphrase, he said ‘it was his biggest goof of his career.’ Still, thus far, Bayern Munich has earned two 1-nil victories in their 2014-2015 Champions League quest against Manchester City and CSKA Moscow. Next up was s trip to Italy against AS Roma.
In-depth analysis could break this game down, but someone graciously compiled a video that encapsulates the tone and feel of the match…in 6 seconds.
(Just click on the video to pause it)
Bayern Munich 7-1 AS Roma.
Pep’s Boys are officially back in top form. Simply put, this was a statement game for a final that won’t be played for around 7 months on June 6, 2015. And by the way, the UEFA Champions League Final is in Berlin at the Olympiastadion.
How do you say, “relentless focus” in German?
Looks like Pep’s rewriting it so that it starts with Bayern and ends in Munich (technically Berlin, but you know what I’m saying).
Conceivably the Best 2-Nil Lead in Fußball
Important Disclosure: I (and many, many other fans) were unable to watch and/or record the Bayern Munich v. Arsenal game yesterday because it was not featured on Fox Soccer, but rather on Fox Sports 2. This channel, unfortunately, is pay-per-view. It’s one thing for a Bundesliga match to be pay-per-view, but a Champions League clash between two giant clubs when past tournament matches have been shown for free?
Not cool Fox Soccer…not cool.
A question was asked in “The Relentless Journey of a Champion” regarding whether or not remaining on 4th and even 5th gear would be sustainable and ultimately rewarding for Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich squad heading into its Champions League clash with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium? This game also came after a German Cup match and a Bundesliga match (both solid victories with its top talent) just this past week.
It appears to be just that simple.
Even without the dynamic services of the injured Franck Ribéry and Xherdan Shaqiri, plus the recovering manager in the middle Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bayern Munich did not miss a beat as they handled a flurry of dangerous offensive opportunities from the Gunners throughout the first half and then absolutely dominated Arsenal in the second half for a convincing 2-nil victory with stunning goals from Toni Kroos and Thomas Müller (or so I read).
This win was also the first for Pep in Emirates Stadium.
A relieved and joyful check for the Munich manager.
It does need to be stated that there was a shockingly surreal occurrence with two missed penalties by a devastated player from each team in Mesut Özil and David Alaba (a fast right arm and a pesky left post), a red card for the Arsenal goalkeeper minutes before halftime, a few yellow cards and a sidewinder beauty tucked inside the top near post from Bayern’s Toni Kroos.
(Fortunately, somebody posted a free highlight video on YouTube yesterday evening)
What does this all prove?
It’s validation that “Pep’s Boys” (just made that up!) are intelligently and relentlessly preparing, working and reacting the right way in their weekly training sessions and during the all-important games. The team’s that think too much on-and-off the field tend to think a lot after the game about what went wrong.
When you can trust everything you’re doing, that’s one hell of an advantage over any opponent, regardless of the venue. Bayern Munich is playing its brand of fußballing chess and are moving themselves and their opponents with direct force, as well as with a passive aggressive nature that is paying big dividends at the right moments.
Plus, they are quite good at imitating the checkers move of jumping their opponent’s back line with an overwhelming effect when that moment presents itself.
Some could argue that’s a championship advantage.
When Arsenal travels to Allianz Arena in Munich on March 11th for the second leg, expect nothing short of a top-shelf lineup and effort from “Pep’s Boys.”
Anything less wouldn’t qualify as a championship effort.