Dortmund 0-3 Bayern Munich: Bayern stay top, pull seven points clear of BVB

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Saturday’s match between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the top two sides in the Bundesliga, was billed as the German clasico. But ultimately, the match failed to impress, as Bayern trotted out the easy winners. The loss pushes Dortmund down to third, seven points behind the league leaders.

The first half gave the hosts a bit of hope. Dortmund, struggling with a makeshift back line that missed Mats Hummels, Marcel Schmelzer and Neven Subotic , still managed to engage their potent attack. However, they just couldn’t seem to threaten Manuel Neuer. Robert Lewandowski, apparently trying not to anger his future team, sent his attempt in the third minute too high. Jakub Blaszczykowski forced a vital block by David Alaba, and followed it up with another attempt. Neuer’s only real work came in stopping a shot from Marco Reus, who was, curiously, allowed to wander freely.

Bayern had the best chance of the half in the 37th minute. Arjen Robben played a lovely ball across the six-yard box for Mario Mandzukic, who’d already forced Roman Weidenfeller into a save earlier in the match. But this time, the Croatian just couldn’t get a good shot in, and the visitors’ chance went begging.

Early in the second half, Pep Guardiola chose to bring off Mandzukic and introduce Mario Götze. This, you might imagine, caused quite a stir at the Westfalenstadion. Götze certainly didn’t endear himself to the Dortmund supporters when, after coming up through the youth system and spending four seasons on the senior BVB side, he made the move to Bayern Munich — for a whole lotta Euros, of course.

And no, the fact that he did not celebrate when scoring for the visitors didn’t make the infamous Dortmund support love him again. For the neutrals, though, it was a fine goal: a little poke on from a ball from Thomas Müller. You might wonder why Götze was left with so much space to make that finish, but then you’ll remember the shambles that is the Dortmund defense.

Jurgen Klopp made a couple of changes shortly after the goal, hoping to introduce a bit more oomph in the attack. Jonas Hofmann came on for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang replaced Blaszczykowski. Moments later, Marco Reus got on the end of a Lewandowski flick, firing his shot low. But Neuer managed a fantastic save to keep Bayern in the lead.

And ultimately it was Bayern who scored the second. And the third. With just five minutes to go, a chipped shot from Arjen Robben, possibly intended for Götze, found its way into the back of Weidenfeller’s net. But that wasn’t enough for Guardiola’s men. Müller put in a third just two minutes later, getting on the end of a ball from Philipp Lahm to finish off Dortmund.

Bundesliga Results — through Saturday evening

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-3 Schalke 04

Hertha Berlin 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Nurnberg 1-1 Wolfsburg

Braunschweig 0-1 Freiburg

Augsburg 2-0 Hoffenheim

Stuttgart 0-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Andrija Novakovich: “It’s a good feeling” to earn USMNT call up

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As the U.S. Men’s National Team continues its transition towards qualifying for the 2022 World Cup, a new face has emerged for the Stars and Stripes ahead of its upcoming friendly against Paraguay.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

Striker Andrija Novakovich earned his first call up on Sunday when U.S. manager Dave Sarachan named the Telstar player in his squad, which will play the South American side on March 27 in Cary, North Carolina.

The 21-year-old forward has been nothing short of brilliant in his first season with the Dutch second-division club, scoring 18 league goals for Telstar — who sit fourth in the Eerste Divisie.

“It’s a good feeling to get the call-up and hopefully it will be a very good experience,” Novakovich said. “They [the U.S. national team] sent the club and myself an email saying that I was on the preliminary roster and we were just waiting, and then this week I got another email saying I was on the final roster.

“I called my Mum right away and she’s proud, she’s happy.

“I’m just there for the experience — of course I want to play, of course I want to get the opportunity and hopefully that will happen, It’s an honour to be called up and I’m very proud and very happy.”

Novakovich, a Wisconsin native, is currently on loan at Telstar from English Championship side Reading.

The young USMNT player moved to England back in 2014 to join Reading’s academy, despite originally planning on playing for Marquette University following high school.

Despite this being his first senior-team call up, Novakovich is familiar with the U.S. national team setup. Novakovich has previously represented the Under-17, U-18 and U-20 national teams.

Lionel Messi suggests 2018 will be his final World Cup

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Lionel Messi’s track record as a professional has encompassed just about every imaginable accolade, but one that has eluded he and his Argentina national teammates is winning the World Cup.

[ MORE: Kekuta Manneh added to USMNT squad ahead of Paraguay friendly ]

The Barcelona star has played a significant role for the Albiceleste since debuting for Argentina back in 2005, and even helped guide the South American power to the 2014 World Cup final, however, harsh criticism from local media could push Messi and many of his teammates towards not returning to the national team.

This wouldn’t be the first time Messi has contemplated international retirement, though.

Following the 2016 Copa America Centenario final — which resulted in a Chilean victory over Messi’s Argentina — the Blaugrana attacker announced his retirement from the Albiceleste. While he has since returned to the international scene, it appears Messi is once again considering a halt from representing Argentina.

“It’s just the feeling that this group of players has. It seems that having reached three straight finals didn’t mean anything,” Messi told La Cornisa TV. “Obviously, we depend on results and unfortunately, we reached three finals and we didn’t win them.

“A lot was said about us. The criticisms hurt back then. But the demand is going to be there for this group to get it done. We think that if we don’t do it, we are going to get a lot more [criticism] and we are not going to have another possibility.”

Argentina has fallen in three consecutive major finals dating back to 2014, including two Copa America competitions and the World Cup.

Messi says these shortcomings have weighed heavily on him, and that winning a World Cup is still the one goal that has left him hungry.

“I’ve cried many times for lost finals,” the Barca forward said. “I cried for not being able to fulfill the dream of our nation. My desire is the same as every Argentine, which is to lift the World Cup.”

He continued: “To win a World Cup is not easy. It doesn’t happen often. The last time we did things well but due to minor details we didn’t get it done. We are very enthusiastic and eager to lift the cup for our country. I hope God helps us and it happens.”

Messi has scored 61 international goals in his international career for Argentina, the most of any player from his native country.

Brazil to play Austria in final warmup game for World Cup

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VIENNA (AP) The Austrian soccer federation says Brazil will play its final warmup game for the World Cup against Austria on June 10, a week before the five-time world champions take on Switzerland in their Group E opener.

[ MORE: USMNT adds Kekuta Manneh to roster ahead of friendly ]

The match will be played in Vienna at Ernst Happel Stadium, the same venue where both teams last met in a 2014 friendly, which Brazil won 2-1.

Brazil has further build-up games against World Cup host Russia (March 23), world champion Germany (March 27) and Croatia (June 3) ahead of the June 14-July 15 tournament, where it also meets Costa Rica and Serbia in the group stage.

Austria failed to qualify for the World Cup but will also play friendlies against Russia on May 30 and Germany on June 2.

Fiorentina renames training ground for Davide Astori

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Fiorentina’s training ground has been renamed “Centro Sportivo Davide Astori” in honor of the club’s deceased captain.

[ MORE: Manneh added to USMNT squad ]

Davide Astori died in his team hotel room on March 4, shocking the Italian soccer world and triggering tributes around the world of soccer.

The respected Italian national team center back has had number retired by both Fiorentina and former club Cagliari.

Thousands packed a Florence piazza to salute the player en route to his funeral, and the club won its first match after his passing following vivid pre- and in-match tributes.