Bundesliga tie provides exciting foreshadow to Champions League final

2 Comments

With an all-German Champions League final set, it was only fitting Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund met in the league prior to the big match.

Neither side could secure a victory as the game finished 1-1, but there was plenty of excitement – and tension – to go around at Westfalenstadion.

Kevin Grosskreutz and Mario Gomez both found the back of the net, and there was a nasty edge to the match as 7 yellow cards were shown between the two sides.

Midfielder Anatoliy Tymoschuk picked up the game’s first yellow and first of 6 for Bayern as he scythed down Robert Lewandowski in the 10th minute, a contentious moment for both sides.

Two of the yellows found Bayern defender Rafinha, the second of which he received for a vicious elbow to Grosskreutz that caught the ire of Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp and sent the Brazilian defender to an early shower.

Ultimately, the Bundesliga runners up will be kicking themselves for not leaving their fortress with 3 points, as Lewandowski had a penalty saved by Manuel Neuer after Jerome Boateng’s questionable handball saw the referee point to the spot.

Both managers will be happy they kept some star players out of harm’s way for the combative match.  Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes deemed Mario Mandzukic, Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery, and Dante too important to risk in the match.  On the other end, Marco Reus was relegated to a 71st minute bench replacement, and Mats Hummels and Lukasz Piszczek were both kept off the pitch altogether.

Despite the use of backups, Klopp will have a headache as he adds Ilkay Gundogan to his injury list after colliding with Diego Contenato.  Mario Gotze has already found that list, and the jury is still out on whether his torn thigh muscle will heal in time for the final at Wembley.

Obviously, that match will need a winner to complete.

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
2 Comments

This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

Photo by Marco Luzzani/Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.