By Tim Stannard
Big day for Bayern who draw Real Madrid and announce new boss
Sports Burst knows exactly how it feels to be overlooked, ignored and underappreciated for its greatness. After all, it looks at its readership stats every day.
Basically, the column is Bayern Munich this week. While the world was clucking and fretting over the demise of Manchester City, Barcelona and Juventus in the Champions League and oozing over Liverpool and Real Madrid, the Germans did their thang by qualifying for the final four of Europe’s top club competition, without anyone really noticing.
The newly-crowned Bundesliga champions are even on the ‘also-ran’ shelf on Friday with the Champions League draw being made and the Bavarians being paired with Real Madrid and the internet musing over what this means for Spain’s fourth-ranked team in La Liga. But by switching the editorial focus about, then Bayern will be fairly happy with the result. Real Madrid are beatable over two legs and a final against either Liverpool or Roma would not be overwhelmingly scary.
In fact, Bayern have really tried to steal the spotlight on Friday by announcing the name of their new manager for next season. And by tradition, the team have snatched a key performer from the same division by recruiting Eintracht Frankfurt boss, Niko Kovac. The last time Jupp Heynckes left the post of Bayern coach back in 2013 – to retire in theory – the German left his successor, Pep Guardiola, the legacy of a Treble success that the Spaniard was never able to repeat. History could well be repeating.
💬 More from #Heynckes on Kovač: "He is hard-working, innovative, eloquent, and lives for football. He is a good man manager too. I believe #FCBayern have made a great decision bringing him in." pic.twitter.com/zqC08aegOr— FC Bayern English (@FCBayernEN) April 13, 2018
Arsenal agony in Europa League lash-up with Atletico
The Europa League also knows how it feels to be overlooked, ignored and underappreciated for its greatness. And to be fair to the much-maligned competition – often by Sports Burst – it kept up with the wild ride vibe on Thursday with four humdinger ties that produced a final four that was drawn into semi-final pairings on Friday.
And basically, it was bad news for Arsenal who landed Atletico Madrid. The reason it was bad is that the competition is the English club’s last chance of qualifying for the Champions League next season with the winners being awarded a spot. For Atletico, the Europa League is a nice-to-have bathroom ornament.
A different vibe in the second match which has Marseille taking on Austrian side, Salzburg. The chance of lifting some European silverware for either team would be completely spiffing to say the least, as well as the Champions League spot. Marseille are currently out of those placings in Ligue Un, although Salzburg are currently runaway leaders of their league.
Tune into the Locker Room at 7.30PM ET / 4:30PM PT where our fine panelists will look back at the wacky week that was and what is to come.
Valverde moves on from Roma rumble
One fairly big name absent from the Champions League is Barcelona, and on Friday morning Ernesto Valverde, the Barca coach, was wheeled up before the media to talk about life in the Camp Nou, ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Valencia – live on beIN SPORTS at 10:05AM ET / 7:05AM PT.
Moving on and casting the past behind was the spirit from Valverde who noted that “if we keep on thinking about that match then we will keep on losing.” A sensible statement, but not as canny as avoiding the whole Real Madrid late penalty debate still zooming about the soccer world. “I have not seen any replays,” claimed Valverde.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Clasico divide, there was good news for Real Madrid if Marca reports are true that Sergio Ramos will not face any punishment from UEFA for watching part of the Juventus clash from the mouth of the players’ tunnel, despite being suspended.
Friday fun as Betis look for wild weekend
In the spirit of looking forward, the weekend of soccer gets underway around the world on Friday.
Over in La Liga and Betis will be looking to continue a fine run of form against Girona. A victory for the Andalusian side will ensure that they remain in fifth over the weekend. That clash is live on beIN SPORTS CONNECT from 2:50PM ET / 11:50AM PT. Ligue Un gets underway on a weekend that could see PSG clinch if they defeat Monaco on Sunday. Nice are making a late push for a European spot away at Angers on CONNECT 4 from 2:30PM ET / 11:30AM PT.
Struggling Wolfsburg desperately need a victory at home to Augsburg in the Bundesliga while over in Turkey, Besiktas can go joint top of the table with a victory at Akhisarspor. Catch the best of the action on the XTRA at 7PM ET / 4PM PT.
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The life philosophy of Sports Burst is that if you are not upsetting someone, then you are not trying hard enough. Sports Burst is a daily trawl and troll through the morning's sports news to bring you fact-nuggets to make you both smile and swear. Hopefully at the same time.