Bundesliga Roundup: Bayern fall, twice in a row

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It took more than three years, but it’s finally happened: Bayern Munich have lost back-to-back Bundesliga games for the first time since March 2011. Of course, the German giants have already wrapped up the title and are focused on winning the Champions League once more, but the 3-0 victory was still quite a coop for Dortmund.

Little changed in the bottom half of the table, with Hamburg, Nurnberg and Braunschweig still occupying the last three slots, and Stuttgart sitting just above.

Friday Results

Schalke 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Schalke are looking more and more certain of an automatic Champions League place next season, holding an eight point lead in third place with six games left to go. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to score again, missing a penalty in the 66th minute, but both Max Meyer and Jefferson Farfán stepped up, the latter grabbing a late goal after coming on to replace Julian Draxler in the 86th minute.

Saturday Results

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Stuttgart
Gladbach fought back to claim a draw, keeping the Foals within a point of fourth place and what’s certain to be a hard-earned Champions League spot. Daniel Didavi opened the scoring with a goal in the 12th minute, and it looked as though Stuttgart were set to hold on for a win. But Juan Arango got on the end of a cross from Max Kruse to equalize in the 89th minute. That leaves Stuttgart in the thick of the relegation battle, one point clear of the danger spots.

Freiburg 2-0 Braunschweig
Last week’s surprise 3-0 victory over rivals Hannover is now but a distant memory, with bottom-side Braunschweig losing once more and remaining three points clear of safety. The visitors even graciously gifted Freiburg the opener, with Damir Vrančić putting the ball into the back of his own net, and Julian Schuster added a second shortly after the restart. With just one loss in their last six, Freiburg are now looking like they just might stay up.

Hannover 2-1 Hamburg
After beating Leverkusen last weekend, Hamburg are once again back in the danger zone. Hannover’s Lars Stindl gave the hosts the lead before ten minutes were up, but Hakan Calhanoglu found an equalizer just after the second half began. It looked as though Hamburg might manage a point, but a tap-in from Didier Ya Konan secured the win for Hannover.

Mainz 3-0 Werder Bremen
It was all too easy for Mainz, who lost to Frankfurt last weekend, to overcome Werder this week. Another own goal, from Nils Petersen, opened the scoring, with Christoph Moritz and Yunus Malli adding two more before the clock had reached forty minutes. The result keeps Mainz, currently seventh, in the hunt for a Europa League spot, but they’ll be four points out if Leverkusen beat Hertha on Sunday.

Wolfsburg 4-1 Nurnberg
Their emphatic victory over Nurnberg lifted Wolfsburg into fourth, although they’ll remain wary of Gladbach and Leverkusen sneaking in – particularly with a potentially tiring Cup game against Dortmund midweek. Markus Feulner opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals from Ivica Olić and Ivan Perišić put Wolfsburg up 2-1 at the break. Junior Malanda put in the hosts’ third and Perišić  grabbed a second to make it 4-1. Nurnberg remain second from bottom, having lost three in a row and with Leverkusen, then Mainz up next.

Bayern Munich 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
A surprise win at the Allianz Arena keeps Dortmund in second, three points above Schalke. Marco Reus proved instrumental in the victory, setting up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the first goal and scoring the second himself. Jonas Hofmann got the third, before the hour mark. The match ended with Bayern’s Rafinha being shown a straight red for fighting. Oh, and if you’re worried about Manuel Neuer being subbed off at halftime, fret not – it was just a precautionary move to keep the goalkeeper healthy.

Sunday Fixtures

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin
The hosts have a chance to get themselves back into the Champions League spots, but you have to wonder – do they really want to reach such dizzying heights? In the twelve games played since the winter break, Leverkusen – who were second in January – have won just three times. Hertha, too, have fallen in the second half. They’ve won just twice and slid into tenth, but their excellent start to the season means they’ll spend another year in the top division.

Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg
The week finishes with a mid-table clash, so you might be tempted to tune it out. But Hoffeheim absolutely love high-scoring thrillers, routinely either netting four or allowing four. They have 64 goals scored, as many as Dortmund, but 63 conceded, which is the most in the Bundesliga. How can you not want to watch?

Pulisic: Dortmund can win the league

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short on confidence these days.

The rising star for the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently in preseason training with Borussia Dortmund, and he believes his side can push Bayern Munich for the title. Bayern has won five-straight league titles, but the last team other than Munich to win was Dortmund itself in 2012.

“We’ve got a big chance to win the league this coming season,” Pulisic said, via German publication Kicker.

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Pulisic has been firing on all cylinders so far in preseason. During Dortmund’s tour of China, Pulisic had three assists in a 3-1 win over AC Milan, and he also started and went the full 90 against Bochum on July 22 back in Germany.

The 18-year-old is coming off a breakout season for the Black and Yellows, scoring five goals with 13 assists over 43 games between the Bundesliga, German Cup and UEFA Champions League.

“Last season was a good step in my development,” Pulisic said, noting he wants to be “more dangerous” in the attack. “I want to build on that.”

Of course, Pulisic followed the U.S. Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup, taking the title for the sixth time. In less than a year’s time, Pulisic will likely be on the field, starting for the U.S. at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with the hopes and dreams of many Americans on his shoulders.

“(It was) a good victory,” Pulisic said of the final.

Transfer Rumor Wrap: Bale’s agent laughs off speculation

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It appears Gareth Bale has no plans of following Alvaro Morata and James Rodriguez out of Real Madrid this summer.

“It’s a ridiculous, stupid story,” Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett told the BBC, following reports that Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane wouldn’t promise Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo that they’d staying with the club this summer.

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Of course, these prompted counter reports that Manchester United could take advantage of possible instability at the Santiago Bernabeu and swoop in for Bale, but it seems that Bale is not for sale.

Bale played just 27 times for Real Madrid last season in all competitions, scoring nine goals with three assists while dealing with multiple injuries. His entire career at Real Madrid in fact has been plagued by injury, but ahead of a World Cup year with Wales still in contention for a spot in Russia, Bale will be extra motivated to stay fit this season.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the world:

(more…)

Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.

Australian women beat US 1-0 in Tournament of Nations

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SEATTLE (AP) Tameka Butt scored in the 67th minute and Australia beat the United States for the first time in the 28-game series, 1-0 in the Tournament of Nations on Thursday night.

The Matildas also snapped the Americans’ four-game winning streak.

Just moments after Butt’s goal got past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, Carli Lloyd blasted a cross from Megan Rapinoe at Australia goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who made a fantastic save. Lloyd had another chance that sailed just over the net.

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Japan and Brazil played to a 1-1 draw in the tournament’s opening game in the afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

Each of the four teams in the tournament is in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings. The top-ranked United States went into the game with a 25-0-2 record over the seventh-ranked Matildas.

Rapinoe, who plays for the NWSL’s Seattle Reign, had a good chance early on in the game but the Americans were unable to break through. Rapinoe has 12 goals to lead the NWSL in scoring this season.

The Matildas have been on the rise of the past several years, with quarterfinal appearances in both the 2015 World Cup and the Olympics last year.

Following the stop in Seattle, the tournament shifts to San Diego on Sunday before wrapping up in Carson, California, on Aug. 3.

U.S. Soccer is looking to host a Tournament of Nations each summer that there isn’t World Cup or Olympic competition.