Sat May 25 05:42pm EDT
Ever since the late, great Paul the Octopus went a perfect eight for eight in his 2010 World Cup predictions, animal oracles have been all the rage. This year's Champions League final has been no different, with everything from otters to elephants trying their psychic powers for Bayern Munich's match against Borussia Dortmund. But now a new power in the novelty predictions racket has shown itself: the Royal Prognosticator.
The day before the big game, FA president Prince William welcomed football officials from across Europe to UEFA's congress in London. In his opening remarks, he tossed in his prediction: "My money is on Bayern Munich 2-0."
He ended up being quite close. He got the winning side right (Bayern), as well as the number of goals they scored (2), but his magical prince powers apparently could not foresee Borussia Dortmund scoring in the 68th minute from the penalty spot. Still, Paul never messed around with scorelines. Only winners.
Anyway, now there's finally a practical use for the royal family: predicting football results.
Sat May 25 05:04pm EDT
After losing the Champions League final in 2010 and again, most painfully, last year on penalties, Bayern Munich has finally won the Champions League for the first time since 2001, beating Borussia Dortmund 2-1. One of the men most tortured by and responsible for their recent failures, Arjen Robben, proved to be the man of the match, setting up Bayern's first goal and scoring their second in the 89th minute. When the final whistle blew, he couldn't hold back the tears.
Robben was the target of scorn after he missed a penalty in extra time of the 2012 Champions League final against Chelsea that could've prevented the match from going to a shootout, where Bastian Schweinsteiger's miss gave Chelsea the title. In the first half against fellow German side Dortmund, it looked like Robben was set to be the scapegoat once again. He missed a couple of golden chances, even blasting one off Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller's face.
Sat May 25 03:21pm EDT
Will Smith and his son Jaden are in London to promote their new film (and hold a mini Fresh Prince reunion), and their trip happens to coincide with the city hosting this year's Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. So before the match, the Smiths stopped by the UEFA Champions Festival on the International Quarter to attempt a few penalty kicks against former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.
After a big stretch, Will stepped up to the spot first. He took a smooth run up, a big kick and then weakly scuffed the ball to the top corner of the miniature penalty box. A penalty so bad that the cameraman couldn't even keep it in frame. The crowd laughed and Smith had Van der Sar get rid of the offending ball.
Jaden was up and he was able to score, in part because his father physically restrained Van der Sar. Sadly, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Alfonso Ribeiro (who was also there) did not take penalty kicks of their own.
Sat May 25 01:07pm EDT
Santos have accepted two offers for Neymar, leaving the final decision on where Brazil's most celebrated young talent will go up to the player. The clubs that made the offers have not been revealed, but one is thought to be Barcelona. The other, however, might surprise. The following is a transcript of Neymar hearing the offers from Barcelona president Sandro Rosell and Wigan Athletic chairman Dave Whelan.
Neymar: I was told that you both made acceptable offers to Santos, so now I must decide which club will help me make this big step in my career. This will be a very difficult decision, so please tell me everything I need to know.
Rosell: Of course. Although, it shouldn't take much to convince you to join Barcelona.
Whelan: I'm not telling you my bank details or where I buy my shoes, so you can forget that.
Neymar: Oh. I wouldn't ask either of those things. First, how many trophies did your clubs win this season?
Rosell: Well, just the one — the league title. But next season, with you in the team, we will surely be Champions League winners once again and challenge for the treble.
Whelan: We also won one trophy — the same number as Barcelona — except we won the FA Cup, which is obviously better.
Rosell: And how can you say that?
Whelan: Because I broke my leg in the 1960 FA Cup final. Did you ever break your leg in the Spanish league?
Rosell: No, but-
Whelan: I rest my case.
Neymar: Next. I must say that I don't want to play in the Premier League. I don't think it will suit my style of play.
Whelan: Well we won't be playing in the Premier League next season, so that works out nicely.
Neymar: Oh. I thought you played in the Premier League.
Whelan: Not anymore, Femur.
Neymar: It's Neymar.
Whelan: No it's not. Look, Knee Car, Wigan is the place to be. Anyone with sense will tell you that. We have everything you could possibly want in a new home. Rugby, the World Pie Eating Championship, there's probably a petting zoo somewhere nearby.
Rosell: Neymar, I don't know about all that. But I do know that Lionel Messi is very excited about the idea of playing with you. Together, you two would be unstoppable.
Whelan: And Gary Caldwell probably wants to play with you too. I mean, I haven't asked him yet, but he probably does. He gets on with most people.
Neymar: One thing I'm very concerned about is the weather and the playing conditions, I know Barcelona is very nice, but how is your city, Mr. Whelan?
Whelan: People always say Barcelona is the Wigan of Spain. So that should tell you everything right there.
Rosell: I have never heard anyone say that in my life. People don't say that, Neymar.
Whelan: I say it all the time. Look how this man lies to you, Nine Bar.
Rosell: This is ridiculous. Neymar, the choice is obvious. One club before you is one of the most prestigious in all of Europe, has the greatest players in the world and can actually pay your wages. The other-
Whelan: Is Barcelona.
Rosell: That is not what I was going to say!
Neymar: Enough. Please. After everything I've heard, I must say that I still can't decide. If you had to sum up your club in one word, what would it be?
Whelan: Broken leg.
Rosell: That's two words!
Whelan: And you just said three more, what's your point?
Neymar: These arguments are both very compelling. I simply cannot decide.
Florentino Perez: Excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear what was being said and as an independent third party, Neymar, you should sign for Wigan.
Rosell: Neymar, this is the president of Real Madrid! He just doesn't want you to sign for us!
Neymar: OK, I've reached a decision.
Rosell: What is it?!
Whelan: Wait. I've changed my mind, Tyler. We don't want you anymore. You can't come to Wigan.
Neymar: No. No!!!
Whelan: Sorry, but I'm not sorry.
Neymar: Fine. I guess I'll sign for my second choice then.
Fri May 24 11:00pm EDT
Three months after coming out as gay and stepping away from the game, midfielder Robbie Rogers has signed with the LA Galaxy according to multiple reports. MLS rights to Rogers, who previously played in the league for Columbus Crew from 2007 to 2011, were owned by the Chicago Fire, but Rogers didn't want to play for them. So after casually training with the Galaxy over the last several weeks, a trade was finally worked out, sending midfielder Mike Magee to Chicago in exchange for Rogers, who is now the first openly gay player in MLS. And according to ESPN, he is also "the first active openly gay male athlete to compete in an American professional team sport."
Rogers came out in February with a moving post on his personal blog, saying "Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay." At the end of March, he told the Guardian that it was "impossible" to be gay in football.
"I might be strong enough but I don't know if that's really what I want. I'd just want to be a footballer. I wouldn't want to deal with the circus. Are people coming to see you because you're gay? Would I want to do interviews every day, where people are asking: 'So you're taking showers with guys – how's that?'
"If you're playing well it will be reported as: 'The gay footballer is playing well.' And if you have a bad game it'll be: 'Aw, that gay dude … he's struggling because he's gay.' F*** it. I don't want to mess with that."
But then, NBA player Jason Collins came out and though he hasn't played since his announcement (he's currently a free agent), Rogers says he started to "feel like a coward" for not doing so himself. From USA Today:
Rogers' epiphany to return to the game came when he spoke to a group of about 500 kids at the Nike Be True LGBT Youth Forum in Portland last month.
"I seriously felt like a coward," he tells USA TODAY Sports in an exclusive interview about his return. "These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?"
Rogers will be formally unveiled as a Galaxy player on Saturday. But he also told USA Today that the MLS is just the beginning of what he wants to achieve on the pitch. With 18 caps for the U.S. national team to his credit, he was to resume his international career and hopes to play in the 2014 World Cup.
"I want to get past the point where I was before," he says. "I want to get back to the national team. I was so close to making the World Cup in 2010, I want to be there for the next one."
Rogers obviously has a lot of work to do to get back to that level and all the media attention he will surely get in the coming months could make that more difficult. But this begins the road towards getting past the circus he spoke of March and getting back to just doing what he loves. In February he felt freed from the "internal damage" of holding his secret by being honest and now he's ridding himself of "feeling like a coward" by being brave. There's a lot that others can learn from Robbie Rogers.
Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
• Champions League finalist Bayern Munich finally embracing its anti-Nazi past
• Bayern Munich heavily favored to beat Borussia Dortmund
• The Champions League final viewing companion
Fri May 24 01:48pm EDT
With two German clubs in the Champions League final, their London hosts are probably a bit more apathetic about the event than they would otherwise be. So to combat that lack of enthusiasm and win over the locals, Borussia Dortmund have organized a rather impressive friendship campaign in the lead-up to the match against more well known Bayern Munich.
The ad above is just one of many parts of their "From Dortmund with Love" campaign in London, urging citizens to enjoy the match while also positioning BVB as the underdog fairytale club that neutrals should get behind. But just how much campaigning are they doing in the city?
From the London Evening Standard:
A black and yellow double-decker bus will tour central London with an onboard team handing out gifts on both tomorrow and Saturday.
The bus will stop off at a number of destinations to celebrate the final with fans.
There will also be men in yellow and black busbies standing guard over some of London's iconic tourist attractions while in various locations such as Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, there will be life-size cardboard cut-outs of star players including Robert Lewandowski and Marco Reus to showcase the club's love of football.
Here's a map (it's a PDF file) that shows all the landmarks they have covered with their scarves on statues, hot air balloon rides, BVB busbies, touring yellowing bus and player cut-outs. They also have moving signs driving through the city with pandering slogans like "thanks a million for inventing the game we love" and Beatles imagery.
Fri May 24 02:19am EDT
Completing the German domination of the Champions Leagues this season, Wolfsburg beat Lyon 1-0 in the women's final at Stamford Bridge. This was a shocking result for two reasons: 1) Lyon had won the last two Champions League finals and over their last 120 matches, they had not lost in regular time. And 2) This was Wolfsburg's first time in the competition. Not a bad debut.
Any karma Lyon built up from offering to replay a French Cup match marred by a referee's mistake last week apparently wore off pretty quick. A handball in the second half gave Wolfsburg the deciding penalty and with the win, they completed the treble despite never winning a trophy before this season. Martina Muller, who has been with Wolfsburg since they were in the 2. Bundesliga in 2006, scored the goal that made history as Germany will now be the first nation to ever win both the men's and women's Champions Leagues in the same season.
Clearly the lesson here is that if you plan on having a football tournament anytime soon, don't invite the Germans.
Thu May 23 11:46pm EDT
The first ever all-German Champions League final is upon us and that means it's time for the third annuel DT Champions League final viewing companion. Wembley will host the match and though excitement in London has been dampened by the fact that all the English clubs in contention were eliminated long ago, the visiting Germans bring all the passion and leather pants necessary for a memorable game.
Of course, since Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich both play in the same domestic league, this is far from the first time they've met this season. Dominant Bayern won the Bundesliga with astounding ease, finishing 25 points ahead of second-place Dortmund in the table. But head to head, they've been much closer, with each of their league matches ending 1-1 — including their most recent earlier this month, which included Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp and Bayern sporting director Matthias Sammer going nose to nose (or, more accurately, chin to nose). Bayern did, however, beat Dortmund 1-0 in the DFB Pokal quarterfinals and 2-1 in the German Super Cup match way back in August.
Anyway, you can find serious business previews and primers for this match pretty much everywhere else online and in print. So here we'll do it the Dirty Tackle way.
Thu May 23 03:25pm EDT
Matze Knop, the comedian and prolific impersonator of Bundesliga personalities who previously gave us "Luca Toni Numero Uno" (the greatest song of all time), is back with yet another tune about Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp. Knop gave Baron Von Borsig's fist-pumper "Kloppo Du Popstar" an English twist ahead of the Champions League final at Wembley and so we have the video for "Kloppo You Rockstar" in all its odd glory above.
But if you want to celebrate Klopp with a smoother club jam, Knop has you covered there too. Here's "I want to be like Jurgen Klopp"...
Thu May 23 01:11pm EDT
Man City visited the New York Giants training facility on Wednesday in between attending a press conference for the club's new MLS venture and flying out to St. Louis for the first of their two post-season friendlies against Chelsea. During the tour, Giants quarterback Eli Manning threw a few passes to Joe Hart and James Milner, both of whom showed soft hands.
Upon making his catch, Milner was given an added surprise from long snapper Zak Deossie which might have required a change of underpants.
Here's a longer look at the visit in which the Giants players tell their guests how they always play with them in FIFA, Carlos Tevez has no idea what they're saying and the Giants' VP of communications calls Joe Hart "Joel Hart."