In their words: Players, coaches react to Borussia Dortmund’s thrashing of Real Madrid

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“I’m happy to have scored four goals, but obviously the big picture is reaching the final and that’s the only thing that counts. Real played well in the first half but we had things under control in the second half.” — Robert Lewandowski, forward, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I gave all my players a hug, because they fully deserved it. That was pure football tonight, my players were unstoppable. We lost the plot a bit after 25 minutes, however, and the players were a bit unsettled, which led to the equalizer.” — Jurgen Klopp, head coach, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I’ve never seen such a great goal as [Robert Lewandowski] ‘Lewy’s’ third – that was absolutely amazing.” — Kloop, via UEFA.com

“The bad thing about having a first and second leg is that we still need to play a game in Madrid. Therefore, we need to keep calm and not go crazy after this game. We all know that it won’t be a walk in the park in Madrid.” — Klopp, via UEFA.com

“They were the better side by far. They won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally. The game went from 1-1 to 4-1 in such a short space of time. We lost possession easily and couldn’t cope with their transitions and speed on the break.” — José Mourinho, head coach, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“For three of the goals we lost possession too easily and didn’t mark properly. We know about Lewandowski’s movement and he deserves great credit for his performance, but we didn’t make it as difficult for him as I would like.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“[M]any of the boys had a bad game and a bad night. At club level this is the second-most important game, after the final. Obviously I am very disappointed with how it’s gone.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“In football anything is possible. On a crazy night when everyone performs at a high level, when every chance is a goal, we can turn it around.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“It was a royal evening for us, it would have been perfect if we had kept a clean sheet. However, it’s quite hard to get a better result against a team like Real. We played a great game from the start until the final whistle and deserved to win by this margin.” — Ilkay Gundogen, midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“We were lacking in attitude and I point to myself first when I say that. It will be very difficult in the return leg at home but we must remain confident and try to react. When the draw for the semi-finals was made a lot of people thought this was going to be easy for us but this is a German team we are talking about; they are a great side.” — Sergio Ramos, defender/captain, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“I’m happy my teammates helped me recover from the mistake. I’m not happy with my performance but the rest of the team played great.” — Mats Hummels, defender, Borussia Dortmund, via @cnyari

 

Chelsea loans Miazga back to Vitesse for second-straight season

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Matt Miazga is back again in the Netherlands.

Chelsea announced Friday that it had loaned the American international to Vitesse for the second-consecutive year on a season-long loan. Miazga made 19 starts last season in all competitions and another 10 appearances for Vitesse off the bench, with one goal scored in the run to the KNVB Cup title, the club’s first in its history,

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Despite his rise through the U.S. youth ranks and success with the New York Red Bulls in 2015 before moving to Chelsea, Miazga only made his first U.S. Men’s National Team start at the 2017 Gold Cup, playing the full 90 in the USA’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua.

Miazga went straight from the Gold Cup back to Vitesse to join up for preseason training.

“I look back with pleasure on my first year at Vitesse,” the 22-year-old Miazga told Vitesse’s website. “I felt very welcome and we have all made historic success. That success will be expanded this coming season and I will continue to develop myself. That’s why I returned as soon as possible after winning the Gold Cup. We are going to compete for the second prize in the club’s history. ”

While it’s disappointing that Miazga won’t be able to challenge for a place at Chelsea next season, he could do worse than facing the challenge of the Eredivisie’s huge array of talented attackers, and after another year of seasoning, he could be ready to play in England, with or without Chelsea.

More importantly for him, with the World Cup coming up, even though he’s on the fringe of the World Cup roster right now, getting regular matches in the Eredivisie will help his cause more than playing for Chelsea’s reserves.

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

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Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.