Bundesliga Wrap: Bayern’s lead even stronger as chasing teams stumble

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Bayern Munich must’ve been laughing from Friday through Saturday as their 16-point lead atop the Bundesliga held firm. The Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the table all struggled, while No. 5 closed ground. Let’s take a look around Germany’s top flight.

Friday’s result

Schalke 0-0 Mainz
The match was even, aside from the fouls. It was the Kevin-Prince Boateng show on both ends, as he led the match in shots (4) and fouls committed (4). Not surprising to hear he picked up a yellow card as well. Schalke’s frustrations in not being able to topple Mainz backline boiled over, with 19 fouls on the day, and they were unable to jump the opportunity afforded them by Dortmund’s struggles at Hamburg.

Saturday’s results

SC Freiburg 2-4 FC Augsburg
Four different Augsburg players scored as the visitors kept Freiburg in severe relegation danger with a two-goal triumph. The club’s traded goals early before Admir Mehmedi briefly gave the hosts the lead in the 73rd minute. That awoke the beast, and Paul Verheagh, Halil Altintop and Andre Hahn scored thrice in 12 minutes to give Augsburg its come-from-behind victory, moving the team into a three-way tie for seventh and knocking on the door of the Top Five.

Hamburg 3-0 Borussia Dortmund
There was absolutely nothing doing for Dortmund today, as a hungry-looking Hamburg club struck before the break on Petr Jiracek’s goal before grabbing two more goals in the second half. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored in the 58th minute before Hakan Calhanoglu scored a wondrous free kick that may have been longer than 40 yards out from goal. It was a rare blast and I’d encourage anyone to devour the footage if you can locate it.

VfB Stuttgart 1-2 Hertha Berlin
Stuttgart is still living with drop danger after a late Sandro Wagner goal doomed them at home. Levan Kobiashvili gave the visitors the lead in the 5th minute but Arthur Boka evened the score for Stuttgart. Wagner scored in the 87th and completed his day with a double yellow in the 90th minute, but it was too little, too late to benefit the home team. American defender John Anthony Brooks played the final five minutes for Hertha.

Borussia Monchengladbach 2-2 Hoffenheim
Hoffenheim is thrilled to split the spoils after falling down two goals in the match’s first 18 minutes, as Patrick Hermann struck in the fourth before Tony Jantschke doubled the host’s advantage. But Roberto Firmino, Sejad Salihovic and Kevin Volland continued to press and press and press… before the former two broke through with goals in the 56th and 82nd minutes, respectively.

American back Fabian Johnson played the right side again in what should keep Jurgen Klinsmann’s eyebrows raised in a good way (not permanently. They could freeze that way). The result leaves Monchengladbach in sixth.

Nurnberg 2-1 Eintracht
Despite a red card in the 32nd minute and an Eintracht goal from Domi Kumbela in the 24th, Nurnberg won a huge six-pointer, keeping their opponents in the No. 18 spot in the table. Eintracht’s  goal differential sunk to minus-25 as Nurnberg popped in goals in the 46th minute (Hiroshi Kiyotake) and 47th (Tomas Pekhart). Kumbela took six shots as Eintracht won the shots battle 20-7, but just seven of those went on goal.

VfL Wolfsburg 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen kept the running total of points for the Nos. 2, 3 and 4 teams in the Bundesliga at one with an absolute collapse on the road. Sidney Sam equalized for the visitors in the 45th minute but Luis Gustavo and Ricardo Rodriguez provided two second-half goals for Wolfsburg, who jumped to within two points of No. 4 Schalke.

Report: Villarreal defender Semedo arrested on charges of alleged assault, kidnapping

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For the third time in the past four months, Ruben Semedo has found himself in trouble with the law.

According to a report from Spain, the Villarreal centerback was arrested Tuesday morning at his home on charges of assault, kidnapping and robbery. A complaint filed to the police by a victim alleges that Semedo and two others tied the victim up and locked the victim in a room in Semedo’s home.

Semedo and the others then allegedly took the victim’s keys and went to the victim’s house, where they allegedly stole money and/or other valuable items.

[READ: Wigan shock Man City in FA Cup]

Villarreal has yet to respond to the latest incident off the field, which has marred Semedo’s season and the club’s reputation. Semedo has only played four times this year as he’s currently recovering from a right leg injury, and he’s been sidelined with a variety of injuries since joining from Sporting Lisbon for around $17.3 million last summer.

This is Semedo’s third time in trouble with the law. Last October, after a long night of partying, Semedo allegedly smashed a bottle over someone’s head. In November, in the early hours of the morning following an all-night session at a night club, Semedo pointed a gun at a member of the night club’s security staff after an argument earlier in the evening forced Semedo to leave.

For the latter crime, the local prosecutor is pushing for two years in prison. If the current allegations can be proven true, Semedo could face even more time behind bars.

As of right now, it seems incredibly unlikely that Semedo could feature for Portugal in the World Cup, as he’ll have more important matters to deal with.

Russian authorities fine hotels for World Cup price-gouging

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MOSCOW (AP) Russian authorities in two cities say they have issued hundreds of fines after finding many hotels were illegally hiking prices for the World Cup.

The Rospotrebnadzor consumer regulator says one Moscow hotel raised prices up to 570 percent above what is allowed by a government decree designed to prevent excessive profiteering during the tournament.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The regulator’s Moscow branch says it issued fines totaling 5.95 million rubles ($105,000) to 198 legal entities and 181 people.

In the Ural mountain city of Yekaterinburg, where Mexico and France will each play a group game, the regulator said it fined seven hotels, some of which were charging almost three times the allowed rate for rooms.

Russian authorities have taken a hands-on approach to regulating hotel and travel costs during the tournament to prevent the negative publicity of visiting fans being charged large sums.

Spanish police dismantle match-fixing scheme in 3rd, 4th tiers

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MADRID (AP) Spanish police have dismantled a match-fixing scheme involving players and clubs in the country’s lower divisions.

Authorities said more than 20 people have been detained as part of the police operation launched on Monday, including players, although no names were immediately disclosed.

The matches under suspicion were in the third and fourth divisions this season and last season.

The match-fixing scheme reportedly involved Chinese betting sites.

The Spanish league said the operation was based on information collected by its analysts about suspicious activities.

UCL preview: Chelsea host Barcelona; Bayern vs. Besiktas

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  • Chelsea vs. Barcelona, at Stamford Bridge
  • Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas, at Allianz Arena
  • Champions League round of 16 resumes on Tuesday

[ UCL: Spurs fight back to draw Juventus | Liverpool thrash Porto in leg 1 ]

Chelsea, mired in some of their worst form since the disastrous 2015-16 season, welcome a Barcelona side enjoying one of the best six-month runs of results in the famed club’s entire history. The Blues have won just four of their last 12 games across all competitions, while the Blaugrana have lost once in 38 games.

On the plus side, Chelsea enter Tuesday’s colossal clash as winners of their last two games — back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018 — having outscored the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Hull City by a combined 7-0. Star striker Alvaro Morata returned to action against Hull after five weeks out with a back injury, thus Antonio Conte has something of a selection dilemma on his hands with the Spaniard perhaps only partially fit, and Olivier Giroud racking up a goal and three assists in the last two games, his first starts for the club.

Barcelona, meanwhile, have conceded just two goals in their last nine games (all competitions) and even managed to overturn their lone defeat, to Espanyol, and advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals (and eventually final). Despite losing Neymar in the summer, Barca mostly cruised through their Champions League group, only dropping points in draws away to Juventus and Olympiacos. Lionel Messi has, strangely, never scored a goal in his eight career appearances against Chelsea, a record which has been spoken about at length in the build-up to Tuesday — similarly to the goal-less record which plagued him against Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, whom he finally bested back in September.

[ MORE: Man City win big away to Basel | Real Madrid 3-1 PSG ]

In the other round-of-16 first-leg matchup on Tuesday, five-time (soon-to-be six) defending Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich host surprise winners of Group G, Besiktas, ahead of the likes of Monaco, RB Leipzig and Porto.

Since taking over on an interim basis (through the end of the season), Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes has won 21 of 22 games of which he’s been in charge, including four of six games during the group stage en route to finish second behind Paris Saint-Germain, while also racing out to a 19-point lead back home in Germany.