Can injury ravaged Borussia Dortmund make another run to the UEFA Champions League final?

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Less than 12 months ago Borussia Dortmund’s players sunk to their knees on the grass at Wembley Stadium, they’d just been beaten 2-1 in the UEFA Champions League final by German rivals Bayern Munich.

Dortmund captured the imagination of fans (especially hipsters) across the world, as their dramatic run to the final saw them beat Real Madrid and Manchester City in the group stages and then dramatically beat Malaga in the quarterfinals, before shocking Real in the semis.

Led by eccentric manager Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund have tried to build on being runners-up in last year’s tournament, but with injuries and other personnel issues hampering his side this season, it has been much more of a struggle for the Bundesliga outfit.

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With star striker Robert Lewandowski on the way out of the Westfalenstadion this summer to rivals Bayern Munich, following in the footsteps of Mario Gotze, Dortmund are trying desperately to build on the team that got them to the final of Europe’s elite club competition. But instead they have been forced to play with a patched up squad for most of 2013-14, as captain Jakub Blasczcykowski, central defender Neven Subotic, midfielder Ilkay Güdongen and the versatile Sven Bender are all currently injured.

Add to that Lewandowski being out with illness and it was no surprise Dortmund lost to relegation fodder Hamburg 3-0 at the weekend. Zenit Saint Petersburg have already stated they fancy their chances of upsetting the German powerhouse, with the key absences set to stretch Klopp’s squad to its limits.

But if Dortmund make it through the trip to Russia unscathed, then their home fortress will surely see them qualify for the quarterfinals. Against Zenit on Tuesday evening temperatures are set to be just above freezing and the Russian fans will create a hostile atmosphere. It will be a huge test for Dortmund, not because Zenit are that good (they aren’t, as they qualified for the knockouts by earning just six points, a record low) but because their squad players must step up and believe they can propel Dortmund to the latter stages of this fine competition.

Klopp and his coaches always preach that the team is bigger than one individual, and it really is a collective effort when it comes to BVB’s success over the past few years. However with the team third in the German top-flight and a tricky UCL knockout round to negotiate, it may be tough for the side that made waves in the Champions League last season to replicate it this year.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

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The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

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According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.