Schalke's Adam Szalai of Hungary, second from left, celebrates after scoring during the German first division Bundesliga soccer match between Schalke 04 and Eintracht Braunschweig in Gelsenkirchen, Germany, Saturday, March 22, 2014. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Bundesliga Wrap: Bayern delay title celebrations until next weekend

Leave a comment

Bayern Munich had to stop the floats from rolling, as the spiteful Dortmund made sure the Bundesliga champions-to-be couldn’t claim the title just yet. Make no mistake – Bayern still won, of course. But BvB’s win just delayed celebrations until next week.

Things are getting rather feisty at the bottom of the Bundesliga as well, with clubs swapping positions nearly every week. Read on to find out more…

Friday Results

Freiburg 3-1 Werder Bremen
Freiburg are finally out of the relegation zone! Goals from Julian Schuster, Felix Klaus and Admir Mehmedi put the hosts up 3-0 before the hour mark. Nils Petersen’s goal in the 70th minute was nothing more than a consolation for Werder Bremen, but it matters little as they’re neither going down nor challenging for Europe.

Saturday Results

Hannover 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund have no hope of the title and are unlikely to lose out on Champions League next season, yet they still enjoy scoring a fair few goals at will. Mats Hummels opened the scoring, with Robert Lewandowski grabbing another shortly after the break. Marco Reus’s excellent goal in stoppage time rather seemed like it was just for fun. Again, no real gain for BvB from this one – except the pleasure of raining on Bayern’s parade.

Mainz 0-2 Bayern Munich
All eyes turned toward Loris Karius during the Saturday Bundesliga matches, as every non-Bayern fan cheered on the Mainz goalkeeper. A series of fantastic saves kept the champions-elect at bay until a series of changes from Pep Guardiola gave the visitors the edge they needed. Substitute Xherdan Shaqiri crossed for Bastian Schweinsteiger to head in the opener in the 82nd minute, with substitute Mario Götze putting in his own goal four minutes later.

Schalke 3-1 Braunschweig
Do you really have to ask? Of course Klaas-Jan Huntelaar did it again, knocking in his tenth goal in eleven games for Schalke. The hosts, seemingly unaffected by losing once more to Real Madrid midweek, kicked off the scoring with a 17th minute goal from Leon Goretzka. They were nice enough to let Benjamin Kessel pull one back in the 82nd minute, but Adám Szalai restored Schalke’s two goal advantage in stoppage time. Schalke remain comfortably in the top three, while Braunschweig, well…we always knew they were going down.

Stuttgart 1-0 Hamburg
And…it’s back down to the danger zone for Hamburg. Sure, 18th in Germany can still avoid relegation, but they’re cutting it awfully close. Stuttgart, too, are barely hanging on, just a point into safety. But Alexandru Maxim’s goal – just five minutes after he came on to replace Arthur Boka – will have Stuttgart breathing a bit easier.

Wolfsburg 1-1 Augsburg
The only Bundesliga draw thus far this weekend came from two sides battling it out for a shot at next year’s Europa League. The point helped Wolfsburg move into sixth after Mainz lost to Bayern, but Augsburg are still two points back. They’ll really be regretting letting in that equalizer from Ivica Olić with ten minutes left to go.

Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-0 Hertha Berlin
It’s a big, big win for Gladbach, putting them within two points of fourth place – pending Leverkusen’s result on Sunday, of course. Juan Arango, Max Kruse and Raffael all scored within twelve minutes, giving the Foals a 3-0 lead before the break. Meanwhile, Hertha’s dream of Europe, which seemed so bright in the first half of the season, has dimmed considerably, with the side now sitting ninth.

Sunday Fixtures

Nurnberg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
With Eintracht just three points clear, this match is a classic relegation six-pointer. Freiburg felled Eintracht 4-1 last weekend, but with Nurnberg having lost three in a row, will fortune favor the visitors?

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hoffenheim
To ensure their spot in next year’s Champions League, Leverkusen – who bowed out of this season’s tournament to Paris Saint-Germain midweek – are going to need a home win. But the hosts are in a tailspin, having picked up just one point from their last five matches. Hoffenheim have lost their last two, but look to at least make things fun at Leverkusen, with at least four goals being scored in each of Hoffenheim’s last six matches.

Report: Chelsea set to overhaul defense with clear out

WATFORD, ENGLAND - AUGUST 20: Odion Ighalo of Watford, Gary Cahill of Chelsea and Branislav Ivanovic of Chelsea battle for possession during the Premier League match between Watford and Chelsea at Vicarage Road on August 20, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

At times during Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal on Saturday, Antonio Conte looked like he was going to cry.

The defending was that bad.

[ MORE: Conte bemoans defending ]

Chelsea gave up three first half goals, the first in calamitous fashion as Gary Cahill was inexplicably caught on the ball to let Alexis Sanchez in to score, and Conte was seething in his post-match press conference about the level of defending and the fact that Chelsea has now conceded at least twice in each of their last four games.

The Daily Mail reports that the Italian manager has seen enough from both Cahill and struggling right back Branislav Ivanovic and he will “phase them out” in the coming weeks at Stamford Bridge.

With captain John Terry set to come back from injury, plus Kurt Zouma close to a return too, Conte has other options and it seems likely he will now use those.

Per the report, Conte is also looking elsewhere to bolster his defensive options with Burnley’s Michael Keane and Middlesbrough’s Ben Gibson both linked with a January move to the Blues with the west London said to be scouting both players closely.

It will be intriguing to see how Conte changes things up in the games to come, especially as the Blues face tough tests against Hull City, Leicester City and Manchester United in their next three Premier League games.

Chelsea played the final 35 minutes at the Emirates in a 3-5-2 formation which is one Conte mastered at Juventus and with the Italian national team in the past. That formation may well get the best out of Terry, the erratic David Luiz and perhaps Zouma alongside them. Truth be told, Ivanovic and Cahill have both struggled for the last 12 months and it is about time they were held accountable for some of the defensive mistakes they’ve made.

Whatever Conte does, it has to be something drastic because the way he sets his team’s up they won’t win games 5-0. As long as Chelsea keep things tight, they’ll do well under the Italian manager. But right now that’s a big ‘if’ for the Blues.

As I wrote from the Emirates this weekend, Conte knows he has a huge job on his hands to transform their defense.

FIFA disbands racism task force ahead of World Cup in Russia

PRATO, ITALY - APRIL 13: General view during the FIFA Futsal playoff match between Italy and Hungary on April 13, 2016 in Prato, Italy.  (Photo by Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images)
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images
1 Comment

MANCHESTER, England (AP) FIFA has disbanded its anti-racism task force, declaring the work complete despite ongoing concerns about discriminatory behavior in 2018 World Cup host Russia.

FIFA wrote to members of the task force to say that it has “completely fulfilled its temporary mission” and “is hereby dissolved and no longer in operation.”

“I wish I could say that I am shocked by the decision, but unfortunately I am not,” task force member Osasu Obayiuwana told The Associated Press on Sunday. “The problem of racism in football remains a burning, very serious and topical one, which need continuous attention.

“I personally think there remained a lot of very serious work for the task force to have done – the 2018 World Cup in Russia being one such matter. But it is evident the FIFA administration takes a different position.”

The task force was established in 2013 by then-FIFA President Sepp Blatter and headed by Jeffrey Webb, a vice president of world soccer’s governing body until he was arrested in 2015 as part of the American investigation into soccer corruption.

Webb, who pleaded guilty to racketeering charges, was replaced exactly a year ago as task force chairman by Congolese federation president Constant Omari, who also sits on FIFA’s ruling council.

“We never had a single meeting under his chairmanship,” Obayiuwana said. “I wrote him, more than once, asking for when a meeting would be held. But I never received a reply from him.”

Obayiuwana, a journalist, broadcaster and qualified lawyer, received the letter from FIFA on Friday announcing the end of the task force.

“The FIFA Task Force Against Racism and Discrimination was set up with your help on a temporary basis to develop recommendations for FIFA,” wrote Gerd Dembowski, FIFA’s diversity and anti-discrimination manager.

“We are therefore delighted to inform you that all of the task force’s recommendations have been implemented and all resulting projects are ongoing.”

FIFA pointed to the introduction of an anti-discrimination monitoring system at matches, the launch of a “Good Practice Guide ,” starting a team of footballing legends and a new diversity award. Fatma Samoura, FIFA’s first female and non-European secretary general, will present the award on Monday at the SoccerEx convention in Manchester.

FIFA also told task force members that its own initiatives “actually exceed the working group’s recommendations” – trumpeting its “Say No to Racism” campaign, women’s leadership conferences and programs in Russia. There are less than nine months until Russia stages the Confederations Cup, the warm-up event for the 2018 World Cup.

The most recent research from the Moscow-based SOVA Center and the UEFA-affiliated FARE Network reported a surge in the number of racist displays by Russian soccer fans, with most cases going unpunished. Researchers logged 92 incidents of discriminatory displays and chants by Russian fans in and around stadiums in the 2014-15 season, against a total of 83 for the previous two seasons put together.

Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

MLS Snapshot: Columbus Crew 2-0 New England Revolution (video)

Joseph Maiorana/USA Today Sports
Joseph Maiorana/USA Today Sports
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): It was mostly the Crew from start to finish, and Ola Kamara’s brace helped ensure Greg Berhalter’s side that the team will remain in the Eastern Conference playoff chase. While the other Kamara — Kei — and his Revolution teammates were largely limited for chances on the evening, the Crew backline did an admirable job to prevent their opposition from testing them. For the Crew, it was the team’s first shutout since the two sides last met on August 20, ironically also a 2-0 victory for Berhalter’s group.

[ MORE: David Villa discusses MLS playoffs, Guardiola and more ]

Three moments that mattered

42′ – Ola smashes one past the Revs on the stroke of halftime — The Crew attack has sputtered a lot in 2016, but Ola Kamara continues to keep the team’s bleak playoff hopes intact.

67′ — Afful’s effort smacks against the post, stays out — The Crew attacked and attacked and attacked some more. Harrison Afful was definitely a bit unlucky that this chance didn’t end up in Brad Knighton’s goal.

84′ — Questionable penalty seals the points — It looked a bit soft to be given, but Kamara makes no mistake with the finish.

 

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

Man of the match: Ola Kamara

Goalscorers: Ola Kamara (42′, 84)

Watch: Dario Benedetto scores audacious blast for Boca Juniors

benedetto
1 Comment

When there’s little support up the field, what should you do?

Just ask, Dario Benedetto.

The Boca Juniors man broke Sunday’s 4-1 win over Quilmes wide open after a quarter hour when Benedetto smashed a 40-yard attempt into the back of the net, leaving the opposing keeper speechless.

The 26-year-old did just about everything right on the day, as Benedetto finished off the match with a hat-trick before halftime.