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Bundesliga Report: Goals, goals and more goals

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Sick and tired of people talking about how soccer is such a dull sport, with games ending in goalless draws or, at best, with a single goal being the deciding factor? Point those doomsayers in the direction of German football. In the seven matches played thus far in the Bundesliga, there’ve already been 24 goals — that’s more than three per match, in case you’re feeling lazy and don’t want to do any maths.

Read on for a quick glance around the German top division.

Friday

Stuttgart 1-1 Nurnberg
The hosts took an early lead after Niklas Stark brought down Alexandru Maxim inside the area. It was Vedad Ibisevic that put in the resulting penalty, but the Bosnian’s goal was cancelled out three minutes later when Josip Drmic got on the end of a ball from Timothy Chandler to put in the equalizer. Stuttgart fall out of the European places after the draw, and could fall further should Gladbach get a result on Sunday.

Saturday

Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Augsburg
It looked as though this would be the week Leverkusen would slip up, allowing both Bayern and Dortmund to pull further ahead. Andre Hahn put the visitors ahead, but a goal from Simon Rolfes had Leverkusen even before the break. It was a nervy second half for the hosts, however — at least until Emre Can found the back of the net in the 83rd minute. Leverkusen remain one point behind leaders Bayern Munich, while Augsburg edge closer to the relegation zone.

Bayern Munich 3-2 Hertha Berlin
Newcomers Hertha Berlin got off to a great start at the Allianz Arena, with Adrián Ramos scoring before five minutes had passed. But, as we all know, Bayern Munich don’t much care for that sort of challenge. Mario Mandzukic equalized in the first half, then put the hosts ahead early in the second. Mario Götze added an insurance goal three minutes later — fortunately for Bayern, because Hertha had another in them as well, with Änis Ben-Hatira adding his team’s second.

Hannover 1-4 Hoffenheim 
This was an absolutely brutal match for the hosts, who ultimately finished the game with nine men. Mame Biram Diouf picked up two yellows inside two minutes, putting Hannover down to ten by the 12th minute. Sejad Salihovic had already converted a penalty prior to the sending off, and Kai Herdling added a second shortly after. Somewhat surprisingly, Salif Sané scored to put Hannover back into the match, but then Roberto Firmino put in Hoffenheim’s third, and then their fourth. Marcelo received a straight red with 25 minutes left to play, but by that time Hoffenheim were out of goals.

Mainz 2-0 Braunschweig
Definitely the Bundesliga’s most straightforward match of the weekend. Shinji Okazaki grabbed two, furthering Braunschweig’s misery as they continue to struggle to climb from the bottom of the table.

Schalke 04 1-3 Borussia Dortmund
The Revierderby should’ve been more exciting than this, no? Two Champions League sides going head-to-head? Except Schalke have failed to impress thus far, winning just four of their ten matches. In this one, Kevin-Prince Boateng missed a penalty that would’ve put the hosts on level terms after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored the opener. Instead, Nuri Sahin grabbed Dortmund’s second before Max Mayer finally knocked one in for Schalke. But Jakub Blaszczykowski put in Dortmund’s third as the visitors claimed victory, both on the pitch and in number of letters used when writing match reports.

Wolfsburg 3-0 Werder Bremen
The two sides were on level terms before the start of the match, but now Wolfsburg sit in fifth, just out of the Champions League places, while Werder Bremen are down in 12th. Maximillian Arnold, Ivica Olic and Ivan Perisic put in the goals for Wolfsburg.

Still to come — Sunday

Freiburg vs. Hamburg
It’s a battle at the bottom, but even a win won’t lift Freiburg out of the drop zone. However, they may feel safer in 16th, as the Bundesliga features a playoff to determine who gets sent down.

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
A home win will lift Gladbach into fourth place after Hertha fell against Bayern. That’ll make for good revenge after the Foals lost at Hertha just last week. But with Eintracht having drawn their last four, it won’t be easy for the hosts to grab all three points.

Napoli fans wear Koulibaly masks to support defender after racial abuse

NAPLES, ITALY - FEBRUARY 07:  Fans of Napoli  during the Serie A match between SSC Napoli and Carpi FC at Stadio San Paolo on February 7, 2016 in Naples, Italy.  (Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images)
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Napoli fans showed their support for Kalidou Koulibaly on Sunday after the Senegalese center-back was the subject of racial abuse in a match against Lazio last week.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

The Lazio match was temporarily stopped in the second half as Lazio supporters hurled racial insults at Koulibaly.

At Napoli’s match against Carpi on Sunday, fans wore Koulibaly masks and painted signs in his honor to show their support for the 24-year-old defender.

A statement from Napoli’s supporters’ group read: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”

[ VIDEO: Van Gaal rips journalist who questions his Manchester United future ]

Lazio was fined more than $50,000 and will be forced to close certain sections of their stadium for the next two league matches because of the incident.

Afobe says he scored 15 goals a game with Harry Kane at the Arsenal academy

during the Barclays Premier League match between Crystal Palace and A.F.C. Bournemouth at Selhurst Park on February 2, 2016 in London, England.
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Benik Afobe and Harry Kane are Premier League foes, but as kids, they were teammates.

Now Afobe is at Bournemouth and Kane at Tottenham, though both strikers played together with the Arsenal U-9 team as children.

[ RECAP: Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal ]

While Kane left Arsenal at 10 and eventually settled at crosstown rivals Tottenham, Afobe stayed under contract with the club until 2015 despite never making an appearance for the Gunners.

Afobe went on six loan spells before moving to Wolverhampton last season, then joining Bournemouth in January.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

With three goals in his first five Premier League matches for the Cherries, Afobe is no stranger to scoring, as he said he would combine with Harry Kane for 15 goals a game back in the day.

I’ve got pictures of us from Arsenal.

He was so small at the time, a bit of a late developer, but he’s always loved scoring. The scores used to be 17-15 and stuff – we just knew we’d score in every game.

But it’s weird because he used to play in goal sometimes, and wasn’t bad actually. You wouldn’t think it – remember that goal he let in for Tottenham a couple of years ago (against Asteras Tripolis in the Europa League) when he had to play in goal.

I think Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs’ supporters are happy Harry Kane chose to play striker over goalkeeper…

[ MORE: Deficiencies visible on both sides as Chelsea draw Manchester United ]

Kane has proven that he is an elite goalscorer in the Premier League, and Afobe is off to a fine start himself. With both players just 22-years-old, we’ll likely be seeing many more goals to come from the duo.

Gary Neville under pressure as Valencia without a win in nine

EIBAR, SPAIN - DECEMBER 13:  Head coach Gary Neville of Valencia CF reacts during the La Liga match between SD Eibar and Valencia CF at Ipurua Municipal Stadium on December 13, 2015 in Eibar, Spain.  (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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Gary Neville was appointed manager at Valencia on December 2. He is still yet to win a La Liga match.

After falling 1-0 to Real Betis on Sunday, Neville is now winless in nine league matches at Valencia as pressure grows on the new boss.

[ MORE: La Liga & Serie A roundup ]

Some have called for Neville to step down from his position, as the club has fallen from 8th to 13th and now sit just four points clear of the drop.

However, the former Manchester United legend has said he has been judged too quickly and will work hard to turn things around.

I said before I came that I would be judged in five months. I have been judged in six weeks.

There’s no doubt that at times like this everyone needs to stay together.

Everyone suffers. It’s just not going for us at the moment. I continue to work, I continue to have belief.

Conversations with the owners are between me and the owners. We have to turn it round quickly, I understand that. It is hard to explain the defeat. It will turn.

Not only has Neville struggled in La Liga play, but he has also seen Valencia bounced from the Champions League and saw his side smashed 7-0 by Barcelona in the Copa del Rey semifinal.

[ MORE: Player ratings from Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Manchester United ]

Valencia’s next league match is on Saturday against Espanyol, who sit three points below Valencia and haven’t won a match since December. If Neville fails to win again, there could be some real trouble at the Mestalla.

PSG down Marseille 2-1 for ninth-straight Le Classique win

HARRISON, NJ - JULY 21:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic #10 of Paris Saint-Germain is congratulated by teamamte Maxwell #17 after Ibrahimovic scored a goal in the second half against AFC Fiorentina during the International Champions Cup at Red Bull Arena on July 21, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.Paris Saint-Germain defeated ACF Fiorentina 4-2.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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France’s biggest rivalry has been quite one-sided, as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Marseille 2-1 on Sunday to take their ninth-straight Le Classique.

Marseille’s last win over PSG in Ligue 1 play was in November of 2011.

[ MORE: Juve win 14th straight ]

PSG got off to a dream start in Sunday’s Classique as Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored in the opening two minutes to give the Le Parisiens an early lead. It was Zlatan’s league-leading 21st goal of the season.

On loan from Newcastle, Remy Cabella equalized for Marseille in the 25th minute. Cabella scored on a brilliant individual effort, taking the ball from his own half on a solo run to the PSG box before firing a low shot into the bottom corner.

[ RELATED: Lewandowski’s agent confirms contract talks with Bayern Munich ]

However, PSG pushed on and claimed the win thanks to a 71st minute goal from Angel di Maria, who has been impressing in his first season in Paris. With eight goals and ten assists in Ligue 1 play, only Zlatan has been involved in more goals than di Maria.

Through 25 matches, PSG hold a ridiculous 24-point lead at the top of the Ligue 1 table.