PLUS: USWNT Mentality Monsters, Wrexham refuse to “Wrexham it Up”, USMNT players in Europe

Hail GFOP!

I type with fingers braced for a weekend that is filled with heavyweight Top-Four rumbles which make Tyson vs. Jake Paul seem like Crystal Palace vs. Luton in comparison. I thank the gods for football and the role it plays in my life. A place that was captured so articulately by my friend John Green in his vlog post-Wimbledon’s 94th minute wonder-win last weekend. Take a moment to watch this video. It will ​​bring such joy to your day. The crescendo is so beautiful, I would love to have it tattooed as a Tramp Stamp. John’s mantra is a truth to live by: "I don't need you to love football, I only need you to love something that brings you together with others whose love is pointing in the same direction. For me, that's football, but for you it could be crochet, or Jane Austen or distance running. But to be bound up with others, with friends and strangers alike, is the human condition. And to be in community is to be, for me anyway, more fully alive." Amen. 

b. In terms of football and community, it is a massive day for us at the MiB Media Network. Building The Women’s Game with Sam Mewis has been one of the joys of my professional life. The response to the wonder she is putting out into the world – intelligent, analytical, empathetic analysis of the Women’s game as its growth surges all over the world – has been a human boon to experience. So, I am beyond elated to make two massive announcements.

🚨 The first is, I am genuinely ecstatic Becky Sauerbrunn is joining the Men In Blazers Media Network. Becky is a long time friend and human wonder. She will be joining us to create a new weekly show GOOD VIBES FC with Sam and Lynn Williams. The show will drop every Tuesday on The Women’s Game channel and will cover every major storyline global and domestic. 🌈🦄

🚨🚨 With all of this TWG content it is time: We are launching The Women’s Game on its OWN PODCAST FEED. All the women’s game content you love - including “Good Vibes FC” with Becky and Lynn, and Thursday’s interview show, “Friendlies with Sam Mewis” which features Megan Rapinoe next week. Plus post-game reaction podcasts for the biggest game in the world. All of it is now on its own podcast feed

DO IT NOW: Search THE WOMEN’S GAME wherever you get your podcasts. 

Make sure to subscribe here so you never miss an episode, and give us a rating and review. It helps more than you know. 💪💪💪

2. To the Football

i. Liverpool vs. Manchester City 🚀🚀🚀 (Sunday, 11.45 a.m. ET, USA)

Klopp’s Last Dance continues with what is almost certainly his last Premier League manic-off against Pep Guardiola. A heavyweight tilt between City’s buzzsaw killing machine and Liverpool’s miraculous hero’s journey. City are a point off Liverpool but in the midst of their routine soul-slaying March 20-game unbeaten run. Both teams played midweek in Europe – Liverpool crucially have had one less day to prepare, having flown back from Prague late last night. The good news for Liverpool is Mo Salah is back from four games out with muscular injury. His 11 goals against City in all competitions are the most thrashed against Pep Guardiola as a manager. Expect Anfield to be a cauldron. Pep has won just once there with City, and that was during pandemic fanless football. It is a place where Guardiola mania and meltdowns have become as routine as his avant-garde cashmere rollnecks. 

More: Liverpool seeking to lock down sporting director before Klopp-successor manager.

Coming tomorrow: I just filmed with Andy Robertson who was in fiery form ahead of Sunday's game. That interview will drop on our YouTube page tomorrow. He is annoyingly inspirational.

ii. Aston Villa vs. Tottenham Hotspur (Sunday, 9 a.m. ET, USA)

The stealth big game of the weekend: Aston Villa lead game-in-hand Tottenham by five points for what is probs the last guaranteed Golden Ticket to the Willy Wonka Champions League. A repeat of Villa’s come-from-behind 2-1 win in the reverse fixture would open quite a gap. Villa have had three-straight wins and rested most of their big guns in Europa Conference League action at Ajax last night. Big Ange’s team are grittier than we remember them from that first-10-game cherry bomb blast start to the season. They have also won just once on the road in their last six and will be without the injured Richarlison. Both teams will have one eye on the Premier League’s chances to win a fifth Champions League place.

iii. Arsenal vs. Brentford (Saturday, 12.30 p.m. ET, Peacock)

All Arsenal needed was a warm weather break and they are flying. Seven straight Premier League games won, and the 31 goals they have netted in the process are more than Everton have scored all season. Brentford are not the Bees of our imagination. Booed by their fans last weekend, they remain just six points off the relegation zone. If all goes right – four big words for Arsenal fans, as they well know – Arteta’s mob could be top of the table by the end of the weekend. Having said that, a year ago, Arsenal were in the midst of a seven game winning run that led only to nosediving darkness. I’m not saying, I am just saying… 🤷‍♂️

iv. Manchester United vs. Everton (Saturday, 7.30 a.m. ET, USA)

Flailing Manchester United face the cure for all that ails them. After two defeats on the run, and being woefully outclassed by City last weekend, Champions League qualification seems like a vague and uncertain concept. In come Everton, who will huff, puff, and outrun Ten Hag’s side, only to be undone by a moment of Garnacho-only-against-Everton transcendence. In the last three months, Everton have had just one win: In court in their appeal against the points deduction. They also have not won at Old Trafford in a decade. Respect to you West Coast Blues who will wake up at 4.30 a.m. ET and adopt the position. Hello Darkness My Old Friend. 

Sigh: Everton takeover awaits meeting between 777 and the Premier League. To cut a long story short, the longer this drags on, the more desperate and reckless it appears.

More: Entire Weekend’s Premier League broadcast slate is here. 🍻

3. USWNT. Through Rain, Sleet, or Snow. Mentality Monsters. 🇺🇸🦅

If you watched the Sea World San Diego Classico Gold Cup semi-final in Wednesday night’s surreal, farcical, frankly dangerous flooded conditions in San Diego, you will know, the United States outlasted Canada in a penalty shootout featuring three saves and, of course, a penalty converted by “Nails for Breakfast” Alyssa Naeher after the game had finished 2-2 in extra time. We face Brazil in the final on Sunday, (8.15 p.m. ET) who rolled over tournament darling Mexico 3-0 with some swaggy goals, and have been installed as slight favorites. 

The United States have had some tournament. They lost to Mexico dos a cero — only the second time a CONCACAF nation has beaten us on home turf ever, beat a Colombian team who came mostly to shithouse, then outlasted Canada Wednesday night in a slapstick game which will go down in lore, for all the wrong reasons. It is honestly still hard to know what we have learned tactically or individually about this squad. But what we do know is this: This squad has some ferocious mentality to rebound from everything that has been thrown at them. Good teams win ugly. Wednesday night’s “El Pissico” was very, very ugly. Lord knows what ideas CONCACAF will concoct between now and then in terms of playing conditions for their final. They seem to have a Hunger Games theme rolling this tournament. Expect them to unleash a field of fire, or one littered with ninja warrior style obstacles. Godspeed to our women. The Olympics are 139 days away.

4. This week at MiB World Headquarters

This week, it’s a bit of Discover Weekly with a splash of Release Radar.

💪 Did we mention… THE WOMEN’S GAME WITH SAM MEWIS IS GETTING ITS OWN PODCAST FEED. That is right we are so overwhelmed by your incredible response to Sam’s brilliance we are moving it to its own Podcast feed, SUBSCRIBE HERE. That will ensure you never miss an episode of Tuesday’s Pod, which will feature Lynn Williams and… this just in… Becky Sauerbrunn. And Thursday’s Pod in which Sam interviews the biggest names in global football. What Sam has created in this short period of time is so wonderful, so singular. If you want even more of it, just make sure to hit SUBSCRIBE HERE and leave us a rating or review. It will help more than you know. 

🚨 In another piece of QUITE BIG NEWS, World Corrupt is back! That is right, our mashup with the team at Crooked Media and Tommy Vietor. Season one was a seven-part deep dive on the World Cup in Qatar (AVAILABLE IN ITS ENTIRETY HERE). This season will focus on Saudi Arabia and their seemingly infinite investment into football and hosting of the 2034 World Cup. The trailer drops…. TOMORROW. Subscribe to our Pod feed HERE to make sure you never miss an episode. 

🌟 European Football meant a double shot of Rory Smith, the Pen and Paper Pirlo. First, in the form of European Nights. This week, a very special feature on the conscious uncoupling between Tommy Tuchel and Bayern Munich. LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE. Plus, a very special Do it Live! in which we broke down another Real Madrid survive and advance special over RB Leipzig. LISTEN HERE | WATCH HERE. We running it back with another Rory Smith double album. 

🇨🇺 We want to call your attention to a very special episode of VAMOS this week with the quite incredible Herc Gomez. This week’s guest: Seattle Sounders Legend Ozzie Alonso. A gent who fled the Cuban National Team during the Gold Cup here in the US in 2007. And a remarkable human being who went from making $10 a month in Cuba, to arriving here without documentation or speaking the language, and a gent who has become a perpetual MLS Star and built a life in America. LISTEN HERE.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 A very special episode of “This Week in Wrexham,” Presented by STōK Cold Brew in which Rog visits Tomi “Cheese” Lewis and sits down with all his mates Five Families-style to talk about how this new look Wrexham has changed their lives. WATCH HERE. 

Finally… my thoughts on the tragic disintegration of the US Open Cup. #KeepTheOpenCupWeird 🏆🇺🇸

5. More Football, Did Ya Say?

i. The Champions League has been terrible to watch this season. No club with a revenue of less than $507m has won the competition since 2013, and that was Bayern Munich. People are tuning out due to lack of competitive interest. It is a massive, massive problem.

ii. The Championship Promotion race is the most delirious in football. PS Come on Ipswich!

iii. Astonishing Barney Ronay deepdive into the self-dealing of PSG President Khelafi who runs the club, is chair of the European Club Association, on the Uefa exco and oversees the Fifa Club World Cup. ”Some people are said to have a finger or two in the pie. Khelaifi has had both fists jammed right in there so deep for so long it is now impossible to tell where the pie actually begins. Never mind fingers. He is the pie.”

iv. On MLS, Apple’s broadcast and the thin line between credible hype and blatant propaganda. 

v. Fascinating interview with Swedish striker Icon Henrik Larsson: “I have 106 caps for Sweden but I see myself as foreign.”

vi. Incredible truth: Team sports make girls more confident.

vii. Sunderland ‘Til I Die Season 3 is quite Epic

There are so many sports documentaries across streamers nowadays, the genre has become almost numbingly omnipresent. Sunderland ‘Til I Die arrived on Netlfix with little fanfare. I want to make it clear: The finale is one of the most moving pieces of football documentary I have seen in a long, long time.

Prize Picks. Best PP since Parker Posey

Charlie Kipp writes: Using PrizePicks means that the team you love can no longer ruin your football weekend. You can be the master of your own destiny by correctly making a handful of selections from statistical categories and seeing your picks through to victory, regardless of your team’s performance on the field (especially important if you’re an Everton fan). Okay, let’s address the German elephant in the room: Timo Werner scored. Our winning streak is over, but like foliage at the bottom of the jungle that receives sunlight after a fire burns the canopy above - we have new life. And what shall we do with it? Take Scott McTominay MORE than 0.5 shots on target. 

There exists a 27-year-old midfielder, born in England but with veins full of Scottish blood, that has been patrolling the channels for Manchester United for the past seven seasons. For nearly his whole career, Scott McTominay has played a defensive role with rare forays into attacking positions, but this past offseason, something changed. Was it a new mentality towards the game or a radioactive can of Irn-Bru? Who knows. What we do know - the result was that the world has been blessed with Scott McTomPelé, a player with eight goals (all comps) and now United’s second-top scorer of the season. The pasty performer has recorded 24 shots in his last 12 PL matches and should be expected to do the same this Saturday at 7.30 a.m. ET on USA Network against checks notes Everton. Yeah, I feel good about this one. Scott McTominay MORE than 0.5 shots on target. 

If you haven’t joined PrizePicks, CLICK HERE and use code MiB for a first deposit match up to $100.

6. Wrexham refuse to “Wrexham it Up” 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿

The promotion train picked up speed again last weekend with Super Paul Mullin again, banging his way into Wrexham’s history books with a hattrick in a 4-0 win against Accrington Stanley. This Saturday, (10 a.m. ET., iFollow) the team heads north to Morecambe, who also clocked a win last weekend against Crawley Town. With 11 games to go, the Red Dragons sit even on points with second place Stockport, who have a game in hand, and only three points behind leaders Mansfield Town. Get In. 

Meanwhile: Bute Energy Welsh Cup: Cardiff City Women to face Wrexham in final. I love this Women’s Team so very much. Coming soon: My interview with Rosie Hughes

7. Euro Step: All you need to know about our gents in action

AC Milan 🇮🇹

Quick turnaround at the San Siro this weekend, as Milan welcome Tuscan side Empoli (Sunday, 10 a.m. Paramount +) only four days after defeating 10-man Slavia Prague in the Europa League (Pulisic goal here.) With their win at Lazio last Friday, Milan go into the weekend one point off of second placed Juve, who have fallen further behind runaway leaders Inter with a recent run of disappointing results. A win Sunday against 14th placed Empoli could prove invaluable in the race for second.

More: How this soccer team became a style success story. Helps when you have a male model on your team. 

PS: Massive game in Serie B: 3rd placed Como, with American Nico Gioacchini travel to 2nd placed Cremonese Saturday (10:15 a.m. ET) after securing all three points in last weekend’s North Italian derby with Venezia. Nine games to go and just one point between the two: Two Teams Enter, One Team goes up to Serie A vibes.

PSV 🇳🇱

For the first time in a long time, I have to report PSV did NOT win last week, but fear not, the unbeaten streak remains (25 games and counting!) as they drew 2-2 with Feyenoord, with help from a Malik Tillman goal. This weekend they play Go Ahead Eagles (actual name), who achieved promotion back in 2013 during Eric Ten Hag’s single season Ten Ure at the club (IGNORE THIS STUPID JOKE AT YOUR PERIL). I’m no Charlie Kipp, but with the Deventer side’s patchy run of recent form, I think it’s safe to bet on PSV picking up points. 

8. Not Football, And All the Better for It

i. Walking can unlock creativity. My family tells me that I am a lovelier person since I had my dog in my life. Science backs that up.

ii. Hoop Dreams at 30. What a movie. What human beings. Arthur and William Today.

iv. ‘Every girl in Iran is born into a cage’: exiled Kurdish women fighting for freedom in Iraq. Worth reading the captions on this one, staggering stuff. 

vi. A Massachusetts library will waive your fines if you show them a cat photo. Crossing my fingers this also works for parking tickets. 

viii. Inside the Biggest Art Fraud in History "Rock instrumentalist and self-trained art fraud investigator" has to be the coolest job title around. 

ix. MIB TREND REPORT: Why Are Pants So Big (Again)?

xii. "This is the story of the Theranos of marshmallows." S'more! S'more! I have a Google alert set for these kinds of sentences. 

xiii. They said it couldn't be done: Quantifying The Diva-Ness Of 138 National Anthem Performances

xiv. Perfect Days. Wim Wenders gem. A hard but beautiful movie that makes you ache. If you saw it, let me know if it haunted you as much as it did me. “Next time is next time. Now is now.”

xv. My wife wrote this piece in the Washington Post. I am very proud of the work she does and the book she wrote. 

xvi. Lovely song: Glad. The Bygones.

xvii. I love this book: Kate T. Parker FORCE OF NATURE: A Celebration of Girls and Women Raising Their Voices. Kate wrote the New York Times bestselling Strong is the New Pretty. I revere her work. This stunningly powerful volume celebrates the power of women and girls and seeks to inspire others to raise their voices. I could not love it more.

That’s it for today, With the Klopp-Pep Rumble incoming. I want to finish by the latest Pep-clothing-deep-dive analysis from the great GFOP Patricia Li who delivered her latest bomb this week:

“Your mentions of "alpaca cashmere" in the podcast today was like a siren song to me - I too noticed Pep's sweater that he wore for the Manchester Derby, and a little digging yielded this sweater by C.P. Company (...neither DSquared2 nor Herno this time!) The material, alas, is not alpaca cashmere, but rather what the company calls "Re-Wool": "Re-Wool is mixed from (Responsible Wool Standard certified) extrafine merino wool (55%) and (Global Recycled Standard) recycled polyester (45%)."

Patricia. This kind of detective work puts Liz Danvers to shame. I love everything about your passion and obsessive detail. To you, and all GFOPs this weekend. Let’s not take a second of watching football together for granted.

To more,

Big Love