In the space of 90 minutes of devastating attacking football, Bayern Munich totally changed the narrative around this Champions League ‘final eight’ tournament.The impact of their 8-2 humiliation of Barcelona will have an even bigger resonance.Manchester City were the bookmaker’s pre-tournament favourites but although Pep Guardiola’s side have yet to kick a ball, they have already lost that status to Hansi Flick’s Bavarians.How could Bayern not be favourites after systematically ripping apart a team which has been the symbol of football excellence for most of the past decade?City take on Olympique Lyonnais in the last of the four quarter-finals on Saturday but whoever emerges victorious from that clash, their celebrations will be tempered by the knowledge that the Germans will await them in the semi-finals.One of the reasons that Bayern were considered merely one of the contenders in Lisbon was the sneaking suspicion that they have it too easy in the Bundesliga, where this season they won their eighth consecutive domestic league title and may not be battle-hardened enough for the European elite.That seems a ridiculously fanciful notion now.Quique Setien’s Barcelona is clearly not the Barca of Guardiola or even a match for the more modest teams of more recent years, but they still finished second in the Spanish league and beat Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli on their way to the last eight.And yet, inspired by the rejuvenated Thomas Mueller, and playing a brand of aggressive, high pressing football, Bayern were simply too much for the Catalans.“We started pretty well but the power of the opponents in many phases of the play, overran us,” said Setien.Indeed Bayern made Barcelona look simultaneously an old and jaded team and naive, as they tried to pass their way out against a relentless press.Flick’s approach was to go for the kill from the outset.Clearly sensing Barca’s defence was fragile and their midfield lacking the steel to compete effectively, Bayern swarmed players into the forward areas.In the first half, that was all about the brilliant Mueller but it said much that their sixth goal was the result of a pass from their left-back Alphonso Davies finished by the right-back Joshua Kimmich.Flick has not until this game, been considered one of the new wave of German coaches epitomised by Liverpool’s Juergen Klopp, who won the Champions League in 2019 and Paris St Germain’s Thomas Tuchel and RB Leipizig’s 33-year-old Julian Nagelsmann, who will meet in the other semi-final.Before he replaced the sacked Niko Kovac in November, Flick was known for his detailed planning and meticulous data analysis but had no experience as a Bundesliga head coach, having been surprisingly appointed as Kovac’s assistant at the start of the season.A former Germany assistant coach to Joachim Loew who helped guide them to the 2014 World Cup title, Flick had then gone over to a German Football Association sports director position.When Kovac was sacked with the Bavarians outside the leading positions and the team in disarray, Flick’s promotion was merely to be a temporary two-game solution before a big-name replacement was found.That search was postponed by Flick’s positive start which led to him earning the job on a full-basis.He now has a record of 31 wins, one draw and only two defeats as Bayern coach.Flick’s approach was summed up by Mueller.“Today, we wanted to dominate our opponents with our way of playing football right from the start. We were just brutally dominant, especially against the ball,” he said.Barcelona might not be the only team in Lisbon who find Flick’s brutal domination just too much to cope with.
Soccer JAKARTA: Somad rarely ventures beyond his impoverished Jakarta neighbourhood, but the 14-year-old is now gearing for a trip to Russia next month as a player in the 2018 Street Child World Cup. It’s the journey of a lifetime for the aspiring striker and eight other Indonesian kids set to compete against teams of other disadvantaged children from two dozen nations. The event’s third edition in Moscow is a long way from Bekasi on the outskirts of Indonesia’s teeming capital where Somad’s father sorts through foul trash heaps to find and sell usable goods. Along with his food-seller mother, the teen lives in a 45 sq m makeshift home shared with four other families. “Not many kids can be as lucky as I am,” says Somad, who like many Indonesians goes by one name. “I want to make my parents and friends proud so we can have better lives and have no need to be scavengers anymore.” The slum is mostly populated by trash pickers who live in its hundreds of shacks. A potent smell of garbage is everywhere in the district where stray animals wander along its muddy roads. More than 200 children are participating in the seven-a-side tournament, which kicks off ahead of this year’s Russia-hosted World Cup. Off the pitch, the kids will take part in art lessons, workshops and there is a conference focused on disadvantaged youth. “I want to help Indonesia win the competition. “But if we do win, I don’t want to show off,” says striker Bayu, picked for the Indonesian contingent from among more than 90 children. “I want to share the experience with my friends when I’m back.” In 2014, the boy’s team from Tanzania won the tournament while the girl’s trophy was claimed by hosts Brazil. The inaugural 2010 event, started by British charity Street Child United, was played in South Africa. Indonesian team coach Wahyu Kurniawan said children from poor neighbourhoods have a vitality that is key to breaking into professional football. “Kids from the street are more active and tend to have more power and spirit,” he told AFP. “My job is to convert those qualities into good football skill and sportsmanship on the field.” But the tournament is about more than just sports – it’s to give a voice to marginalised children. “Achievement in the tournament is not our main priority, it’s a bonus,” said Jessica Hutting from Kampus Diakoneia Modern (KDM), a children’s rights NGO that selected the Indonesian players. “We use football as a tool to bring street-connected children together in a safe space where their voices can be heard.” – AFP
(This blog brought to you by Atlantic Remodeling. Visit www.atlanticremodeling.com to learn about their Red Cent Guarantee!)More than a month after tight end Dennis Pitta suffered a devastating hip injury in the first week of training camp, the Ravens are officially leaving the door open for his return in 2013.As expected, the team announced Wednesday morning that Pitta was placed on injured reserve with the designation to return after it was initially feared that he would be lost for the entire season. Baltimore re-signed veteran tight end Billy Bajema to take Pitta’s place on the 53-man roster a day before the Ravens’ season-opening game in Denver. Pitta suffered a fractured and dislocated hip on July 27 and underwent surgery immediately. An MRI later revealed the fourth-year tight end hadn’t suffered any ligament or cartilage damage to the hip area, leaving open some chance of him returning later this season. “I would love to play this season,” Pitta told the team’s official website last week. “I think there’s a possibility of me coming back. There’s also the possibility that I won’t be back until next season. I’m prepared for both decisions. Right now, I’m taking it day-to-day and doing everything they allow me to do. I’m getting stronger every day.”The designation would allow Pitta to return to practice after the first six weeks of the regular season and to game action after the first eight weeks, but he is not expected to be ready that soon as many medical experts have described his type of injury as needing a minimum of three to four months of recovery time in the most optimistic cases. Teams were not allowed to use the return designation until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, meaning the Ravens were required to carry Pitta on their 53-man roster through final cuts on Aug. 31. Each team is allowed to use the IR exemption once and cannot recover the privilege to use it on anyone else should the injured player be unable to make it back to the field.“You’ve got to weigh that, but you can’t predict and deal in hypotheticals,” said Harbaugh last week. “Dennis is a great player in our opinion, and this is an opportunity that seems like it might make sense for him.”Bajema served as the No. 3 tight end behind Pitta and Ed Dickson last year and is regarded as a strong blocker and special-teams contributor who will back up Dickson and veteran newcomer Dallas Clark in 2013.