Dortmund's Sebastian Kehl lies on the pitch after challenging for the ball with Berlin's Hajime Hosogai of Japan during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Borussia Dortmund and Hetha BSC Berlin in Dortmund , Germany, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

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.


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.


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.


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?

Report: Guardiola to take manager’s job at Man City next season

Pep Guardiola, Bayern Munich

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Manchester City desperately want to lure Pep Guardiola away from Bayern Munich and pay the Spaniard tactician lots and lots of money to come manage in the Premier League.

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Of course we’ve all heard it before — a number of times, in fact. So, what’s different about the latest report, hitting the headlines very late Thursday night in Europe, linking the 44-year-old to Man City?

Well, apparently, we’ve moved past “Man City will offer Guardiola whatever he wants to come to the Etihad Stadium,” and arrived at “Guardiola has agreed terms to become manager at Man City.”

However, the respected Spanish radio station Cadena COPE is reporting that Guardiola has already decided he would like “a change of scenery” and will succeed Manuel Pellegrini at the Etihad Stadium.

“Pep Guardiola will leave Bayern Munich at the end of this season and will train Manchester City next season,” read the report.

“Guardiola has decided on a change of scenery. He considers his time in Germany will end on 30 June after three seasons and, therefore, fulfil one of his wishes: to coach in England.”

With all due respect to every player Man City have signed in the last decade, the acquisition of Guardiola would be, by far, their greatest coup to date — a manager with a clear ethos, a clear plan of action and a track record of having succeeded and won in the UEFA Champions League, which remains the most elusive trophy to City’s cabinet.

Mourinho-Costa feud could mean January transfer activity for Chelsea

Diego Costa & Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC
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Perhaps no man in the footballing world has been embroiled in more controversy this season than Jose Mourinho, who remains in charge of Chelsea despite a horrid start to the club’s 2015-16 Premier League campaign.

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The Portuguese mastermind has fallen out with a number of his own players and staff this season, so why not add another name to the growing list? Come on down, Diego Costa, you’re Mourinho’s next combatant.

The two reportedly got into a heated locker-room exchange following Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given Costa’s increasingly poor form all the way back to the final weeks and months of the 2014-15 season — just seven goals scored in the last 10 months — Mourinho is reportedly less and less sure the Brazilian-turned-Spaniard is the right man to lead the line for the reigning PL champions.

The details of Mourinho and Costa’s halftime spat, from the Guardian:

Mourinho, just as he did after a similar situation against Norwich on Saturday, made his frustrations clear at the forward’s lack of anticipation over an Eden Hazard pass, which would have provided the striker with a tap-in had he been on the move. Costa returned his manager’s remonstrations in kind. Oscar and John Terry tried to calm him down only to be pushed aside. The manager subsequently suggested there had been “a few kisses, a few cuddles” in the dressing room at the interval, and “no problem,” though the public show of dissent was notable.

The club’s hierarchy is reportedly considering dipping into the transfer market in January — something they’re extremely loath to do — to replace the misfiring Costa. The names of Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin Van Persie and Saido Berahino are the biggest currently linked with the Blues, given the lack of elite players typically available — as well as not being cup-tied in the Champions League — during the January window.

Chelsea, who currently sit 15th in the PL, return to league action on Sunday when they visit Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane (Watch live at 6:30 a.m. ET on USA and online via Live Extra).

Wenger expects “hunting lion” Sanchez to be fit for Norwich clash

Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal FC
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Alexis Sanchez is, by regular human standards, questionable for Arsenal’s Premier League clash with Norwich City on Sunday (Watch live at 11 a.m. ET on Live Extra), thanks to a tweak to his hamstring during Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League victory over Dinamo Zagreb.

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There’s just one problem with the above premise: Sanchez, according to manager Arsene Wenger, isn’t exactly human; he’s more like a lion, says Wenger — a hunting lion chasing after and feasting on its prey.

Wenger, on Sanchez’s ability to recover quickly and star for the Gunners — quotes from the Guardian:

“When he does something, he does it 100%. He finishes and you think: ‘He’s dead now.’ But then he recovers and gives 100% again. You always see signs of exhaustion but it’s not [that], because two days later, he’s fine.

“His style is very explosive, it’s a very committed style. Jamie Vardy is a bit similar. When they go, they go. They are like the lion. He has to catch the animal in the first 200 metres. If he doesn’t get there, he’s dead [on his feet] afterwards. They are these kind of killers. When they go, it is to kill and after, they have to stop.”

“I take information, especially from the medical people who know him and treat him everyday and after, we look at his overall recovery as well. When there are alarming signs, we want to make the right decision at the right moment but as long as the guys are confident, they score goals – it is always difficult to rest them.”

Sanchez’s production this season — 9 goals, 4 assists in 17 appearances – all competitions — is right on par with his spectacular debut in the PL last season. “What is also remarkable is that he goes to South America to play,” Wenger went on to say. “He comes back on Thursday night and on Saturday he can play without a problem, even if he’s jet-lagged.”

Expect Sanchez to feature on Sunday, and probably to score a goal or two, as well.

“Unprofessional” Grealish banished to U-21s after nightclub incident

Jack Grealish, Aston Villa FC
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2015 has been an eventful calendar year for Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish, to say the least.

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First, there was his emergence as a prominent first-team player for his boyhood club; followed by the Villans’ run to the FA Cup final in May; then came the England-versus-Ireland tug-of-war for his international services; a forgettable vacation to Spain for the 20-year-old; and another managerial change at Villa Park. After yet another off-field incident last weekend, in which Grealish was photographed in a nightclub hours after a 4-0 defeat to Everton, his new manager, Remi Garde, has labeled Grealish “unprofessional” and sent him away to train with the club’s U-21 side.

Garde, on Grealish’s actions and subsequent punishment — quotes from the Guardian:

“This is not professional. It is not what is expected from my players. That is why now Jack is training with the under-21 team for the moment. He won’t be included in the squad for Watford. At this stage he is not playing this weekend and he is training with the under-21 team. That is all I can say for the moment.”

“Sometimes players in every country ask to stay in the city we have played in and this is not a problem for me, it happens one or two times a season. The problem with Jack was not that he wasn’t on the bus. The problem was elsewhere.”

Villa, who will welcome 13th-place Watford to Villa Park on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on Live Extra), currently sit rock bottom in the Premier League (5 points from 13 games), five points away from climbing out of the relegation zone.