Bundesliga Report: Bayer, Dortmund both fall short

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Bayern Munich face off against Raja Casablanca on Saturday night to determine which club is the best in the world. But the German side, despite having recently lost to Manchester City, have little need to prove their worth. After both Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen lost in Round 17, should Bayern win their next match, they’ll be 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table.

Friday

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Augsburg
The hosts spent the first 30 minutes simply trying to close down Augsburg, but after Raul Bobadilla opened the scoring, Frankfurt wasted hardly any time getting back into the match. Jan Rosenthal equalized ten minutes later, grabbing a much needed point for his side, who are just barely staying above the relegation zone.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Hertha Berlin
On paper, this match should’ve been simple for one of Germany’s top three sides. Instead, Hertha Berlin capitalized on Dortmund’s continuing defensive woes. The hosts took first blood with a goal from Marco Reus, but by the break, Hertha had put themselves ahead. Sami Allagui had a hand in both goals, setting up Adrián Ramos for the first and putting in the second himself. The win lifts Hertha back into the European positions, while Dortmund are now in danger of being overtaken by rivals Gladbach, should they win on Sunday.

Braunschweig 1-0 Hoffenheim
Yes, Braunschweig, who started the weekend dead last, managed to hold off Hoffenheim and collect all three points, despite being down to just ten men for the final ten minutes. A penalty converted by Torsten Oehrl was all the hosts needed to claim victory.

Freiburg 2-1 Hannover
Freiburg gave themselves a much needed boost thanks to a first-half brace from Admir Mehmedi. The visitors pulled one back thanks to a last-minute header from Leonardo Bittencourt, but that wasn’t enough to stop Freiburg from putting themselves within one point of safety.

Hamburg 2-3 Mainz
Possibly the best game of the Bundesliga weekend thus far, this match was a lively back-and-forth affair. The hosts got things started with a goal from Hakan Calhanoglu, but Shinji Okazaki had his side in front early in the second half. He scored in the 47th minute and then provided the assist for Nicolai Müller’s go-ahead goal three minutes later. Both sides continued to press, but it was Hamburg that struck next, a close-range shot from Rafael van der Vaart. But when Tomás Rincón was sent off a few minutes later, HSV knew they had to settle for a draw. Things didn’t go quite as planned, however. Okazaki struck once more, in injury time, and Mainz ended up with all three points.

Werder Bremen 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Werder started the day 21 points behind the visitors, yet somehow managed to emerge victorious. A fast break, a ball from edrick Makiadi, a finish from Santiago Garcia, and all the hosts needed to do was hold on for the final fifteen minutes. They managed — taking not another shot — and by the time Bayern play their 17th match, Leverkusen could very well be 10 points off the pace.

Nurnberg – Schalke
There’s very little to say about this scoreless draw that leaves Nurnberg in dead last and Schalke still outside the European positions.

Sunday

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Wolfsburg
A win for the Foals and they’ll move in front of rivals Dortmund — and into the Champions League places. But Wolfsburg won’t make it easy, as a Gladbach scalping will move them even with their opponents in fourth place. Both sides are on impressive runs as well: Gladbach are unbeaten in seven, Wolfsburg in eight. Why would you not want to watch this match?

Antonio Conte admits he misses Italy, plans to return home

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This is not exactly what Chelsea’s fans will want to hear on a Monday morning after a resounding 4-0 win at Stoke as the Blues moved up to third in the Premier League table.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Antonio Conte, who delivered the Premier League title in his first season in charge of the Blues, and his first season in England, in 2016-17, has been speaking of his desire to return to his homeland.

Conte, 48, spoke to Italian radio station RadioUno about his experience in the Premier League and left the door wide-open for a return to Serie A in the coming months as he admitted he misses Italy.

“I miss it, that’s beyond doubt,” Conte said. “Italy is my homeland, so once I have had some good experiences, formative experiences, important and life-changing experiences, I’ll be back. I don’t know when but that’s the aim.

“It’s always difficult to predict the future. Us managers have the most precarious job of all. Today you’re working, tomorrow you’re out. I want to succeed, to finish one project and make the right decision about the next. This experience has given me so much, has improved me so much, but perhaps in the future I won’t be a manager. Perhaps I’ll work as a director of football. I don’t know.”

Conte has been linked with the managers job at Inter Milan and with comments like this, those links will not go away.

Adding further fuel to the fire was his decision to only signed an improved contract over the summer rather than extending his stay at Stamford Bridge. Conte’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the 2018-19 season.

After a tough summer and a tough start to the season which saw a feud with Diego Costa dominate the talk surrounding Chelsea, a loss to Arsenal in the Community Shield, an opening day defeat at home to Burnley, plus some questionable dealings in the transfer market, the pressure was piling on Conte.

His team have responded with five wins in their next six games in all competitions and are right up there with the early pacesetters in the Premier League.

That said, the fact that Conte was under any pressure whatsoever was a joke considering what he had achieved last season when nobody expected Chelsea to seriously challenge for the title. Therein lies why he could want out when his current deal at Chelsea is up, or maybe even sooner than that.

In situations like this I often think about what Eric Cantona did: leave before anybody else expects you to and you’ll go out, and remain, a hero.

Mourinho escapes ban after sending off

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Jose Mourinho will face no further action from the English Football Association after he was sent off at Southampton on Saturday.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Towards the end of United’s 1-0 win — which keeps them unbeaten and in second-place in the standings — Mourinho encroached slightly onto the pitch (we are talking half a yard here) and referee Craig Pawson sent him to the stands after being called over by fourth official Mike Jones who pulled Mourinho back into his technical area.

Mourinho, in true fashion, then delayed his sending off by shaking the hands of every member of Southampton’s coaching staff before he took his place in the stands for the final few seconds of the game.

After being sent off nine times in his career for various discrepancies over the years, Mourinho is no stranger to having the FA’s rule book thrown at him.

However there is an argument out there, and a credible one, that due to his high profile and history of misdemeanors Mourinho is treated rather differently than most managers.

In his long list of previous incidents where he has stepped out of line, stepping slightly over the touchline at Southampton was incredibly minor.

Common sense has prevailed.

MLS Snapshot: POR carve up 9-man ORL, keep pace with VAN, SKC

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The game in 100 words (or less): All of a sudden, the Western Conference has sprung to life as the 2017 regular season winds down — Vancouver Whitecaps, winners of five of their last seven games (unbeaten); Portland Timbers, winners of four of their last six following Sunday’s 3-0 victory over 10-man nine-man Orlando City SC at Providence Park; Sporting Kansas City, losers of just two of their last 15 games; Seattle Sounders, who had their 13-game unbeaten run snapped on Saturday; and Real Salt Lake, winners of four of their last five. With fewer than a handful of games remaining, Vancouver’s lead on Portland and Sporting KC remains one point after all three sides won this weekend; RSL and Seattle are separated by just three points, three points back of second and third. As for Saturday’s game, Diego Valeri is now a top-two candidate for MVP after scoring two more goals (his 19th and 20th, to go with 9 assists) against 10-man Orlando.

[ MORE: TFC’s Shield celebration delayed | RSL end Seattle’s run at 13 ]

Three moments that mattered

15′ — Valeri extends his streak, makes it 1-0 — The last time Valeri failed to score in a game, the date was July 23.

29′ — Mattocks taps it home after Asprilla’s cross — Huge credit to Diego Chara for the through ball to spring Dairon Asprilla into acres of space. The ball to Mattocks was simple, and he got it right.

59′ — Valeri gets no. 20, makes it 3-0 — Joe Bendik managed to deny Mattocks’ initial effort, but Valeri followed up when everyone in white had already quit on the play.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Man of the match: Diego Valeri

Goalscorers: Valeri (15′ – PK, 59′), Mattocks (29′)

The 2 Robbies: City Sparkle, Chelsea Shine, Liverpool Hold On

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe take a look at some of the weekend’s biggest storylines, including Liverpool’s thrilling victory over Leicester City, Tottenham Hotspur’s frantic win away to West Ham United and Manchester City’s demolition of Crystal Palace.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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