Dortmund vs Malaga: 5 key battles

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As Borussia Dortmund and Malaga get ready to face-off in their Champions League quarter-final second leg clash, here are the 5 key battles that will decide who progresses to the semi-finals:-

ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI vs MARTIN DEMICHELIS

Dortmund’s Lewandowski is one of Europe’s hottest offensive properties right now, and he is being watched by some huge clubs. The experience of 32-year-old Demichelis will be crucial in keeping the Polish star quiet. If the pony-tailed Argentinian doesn’t play to his potential Malaga will struggle to progress.

MARIO GOTZE vs ISCO

Although they won’t actually be marking one another, both of these two 20-year-olds are expected to become one of the best soccer players on the planet over the next few years. Both have great technical quality and are exciting to watch, and whoever has the more influential evening could be the difference between the two sides.

ILKAY GUNDOGAN vs JEREMY TOULALAN

Gundogan is a great young German prospect in the midfield, full of intelligent passing, a good work-rate and an ability to run the show. Toulalan is more of a spoiler in the centre, breaking up the opposition attacks and getting the ball to guys who are more talented and offensive. His job is to stop Gundogan dictating the play.

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ROMAN WEIDENFELLER vs WILFREDO CABALLERO

On big nights like these, the goalkeeper can often end up being either the hero or the villain. Neither Weidenfeller or Caballero, while perfectly adequate, are among the elite ‘keepers in world soccer, and it will be one of the biggest games of both of their careers.

MARCEL SCHMELZER vs JOAQUIN

31-year-old Joaquin was once one of soccer’s rising stars, and after a spell in the wilderness he is back playing great for Malaga. His speed and power on the right hand side could be a lethal weapon for Malaga on the counter attack, and left-back Schmelzer will have to be wary of giving the Spaniard too much space to run.

Let battle commence.

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.