Lets start the talk of the second Tuesday quarterfinals with a little rant about Fox Sports. They have the rights for the Champions League in America until the end of this season and for some reason they decide to put one of the quarterfinals on Facebook Live. The first leg between Sevilla and Bayern Munich is going to be on Facebook. I mean who is the genius who decided to do this? I get in 2018 a lot of people stream their content, that’s fine I understand but there are still a lot of people who prefer their content to be on an actual television versus their phone, laptop, or tablet. If I were a fan of Sevilla or Munich I would be livid. Especially when I look at my guide and see Fox Sports 2 is showing a bunch of old UFC fights. Plus the way they show the game is frustrating. They’ve been doing this the entire Champions League so I have checked this out. They broadcast the game from a studio, which isn’t uncommon Fox does this for most of their games. Like Juventus/Real Madrid will be broadcast by John Strong and Stu Holden and it’s not like they will be in Turin, they will be in the studio as well, but at least it sounds like they are at the game. And the crowd noise which is important to any broadcast sounds normal, but for the Facebook Live broadcast they have Rachel Bonetta as the host who I like a lot but I just don’t like this format, she is joined by two analyst types and the two of them call the game without a real play by play guy as Rachel will chimes in from time to time with questions from social media. I am sorry but this is a terrible way to broadcast a game. First of all the crowd noise is turned way down and it is just basically two former players who talk through the game like it’s two dudes watching the game together from their couch. It just doesn’t have the same feeling as a normal broadcast does and it takes away from the game. It was one thing during the group stage and in a way it was cool cause it gave you a third option besides the games on FS1 and FS2. But not during the knockout stage this is a huge deal at this point and we have one of the four games on Facebook Live with this type of broadcast this is just a horrible decision by Fox and I feel awful for Sevilla and Bayern fans. Okay enough of that let’s talk about this actual game. Would they broadcast a NFL player game on Facebook with no options to watch the game in English anywhere else? I don’t think so.
Bayern comes into this round and they are one of the big favorites. They got a great draw so far in this competition by drawing Besiktas in the round of 16 and now drawing Sevilla in this round. They got rid of Besiktas rather easily taken advantage of Besiktas going down a man early in leg 1 on their way to cruising to an easy 5-0 first leg win ending the tie really before it started. They won the second leg at Besiktas 3-1 for an overall 8-1 win on aggregate. They are in great form coming off a 6-0 destruction of their biggest league rival Borussia Dortmund over the weekend.
They have won 5 straight Bundesliga titles and are on their way to a 6th but this competition has been a bit of a cloud hanging over their head in recent years. They last won this competition in 2012-2013 but have not been able to get over the hump since, even with Pep Guardiola as their manager for 3 seasons despite being a heavy favorite. It isn’t exactly shameful that in these 4 seasons they have lost to Real Madrid in the semis in 2014, lost in the semis to Barcelona in 2015, lost in the semis to Atletico Madrid in 2016, and lost in the quarters to Real Madrid in 2017. Look they haven’t lost to a minnow here, they lost to great sides no doubt, but this Bayern side is supposed to be up there at the same level with these sides and if they want to be mentioned in the same breath as the Spanish Giants they need to get over the hump and beat these teams and win this competition. If not they will be looked at as a side that dominates their average league but isn’t quite good enough to beat the best despite having a team that is mezmerizing with their talent. So, basically they are the German PSG.
Another Spainsh Opponent
There was certainly something funny about seeing them draw another Spanish opponent considering they have been eliminated by a Spanish side the past 3 years. They only one of the 4 that they were favorites was against Atletico Madrid and we all know what kind of power they’ve become so there isn’t a ton of shame in that but this time around the opponent is Sevilla a team to be honest with you isn’t that great, they are a team that Bayern should handle with no problem. If they don’t and go out to this Spanish side they will get hammered worldwide and the hot takes will be deserving.
One of my favorite games to play this year is to decide what the best starting 11 is for this Bayern team. They have so many options and so many different routes they can go. So, it is always interesting to see what way they go. To me there best 11 goes like this: Ulreich, Alaba, Hummels, Boateng, Kimmich, Vidal, Alcantara, Coman, James, Muller, Lewandowski. Now for today Kingsley Coman is out with an injury so expect Frank Ribery to step in. I know everyone loves Ribery but currently I would take Coman over Ribery every single day. I also have a feeling that they go with Javi Martinez over Alcantara even though Alcantara is one of the best midfielder’s on the planet, this just gives them a more balanced side which makes sense. It is just laughable how talented this side is. And how much depth they have.
Bayern’s opponent Sevilla is a huge step down to the Spanish teams Bayern has faced the last 4 years. Sevilla is currently in 7th in La Liga, they’ve been a huge disappointment this season, they’re usually not a team you expect to mix it up with Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atleti, but they are a team that you can count on to be the best of the rest and come in 4th if they don’t come in 4th they are usually close by at least but this year is a different story as they are 16 points behind Valencia who holds the 4th spot and 30 points behind Barcelona who leads the league and will win the league.
Sevilla in recent years have played their best in Cup competitions. No one has one the Europa League more than Sevilla has winning it 5 times and all in recent memory. They won the title in 06, 07, 14, 15, and 16 and all Liverpool fans remember 16 when they broke our hearts in Basel winning their third straight and earning the first automatic bid to the next years Champions League. They made it to the Copa Del Rey final in 2016 and they are in it again this year. They have also made it to the knockout stages of this competition in 08, 10, and 17 losing in the round of 16, and this year they are obviously in the quarters. This is the farthest that they’ve made it in this competition. But no doubt Sevilla flourishes in cup competitions so a lot of times when talking about them it is wise to ignore their league form.
A great example of this is their Round of 16 win against Manchester United I know that the narrative following that was to blame Jose Mourinho and certain individuals on United while all that is true but there was no doubt Sevilla was the better side in both legs and deserve to advance.
The biggest story line to me for the first leg is that Sevilla’s best player Ever Banega will miss the first leg due to a yellow card suspension. This is a bit problematic for Sevilla. He is their all everything. If you watched both legs of the United tie he controlled everything through the midfield and was a huge reason that they are playing in this round. I thought it was going to take a miracle for them to advance and in order to they will need a huge win at home in the first leg but without Banega i don’t see it happening.
Other injuries and suspensions. Sebastian Coricha from Sevilla is dealing with an ankle injury, for Bayern Munich Kingsley Coman is out with an ankle injury and Arturo Vidal is a doubt as well so look for them to go with either Tolisso or Alcantara to play along side Javi Martinez in midfield.
But It’s the Banega suspension that will be the big subtraction to this first leg.
I can’t shake the Banega suspension he is the key to this team, everything they do goes through him this is such a huge loss. Bayern is obviously loaded and motivated to win this dang thing again. I expect them to get off to a good start tonight and carry that through to an easy advancement to the semis.
Bayern wins 2-0