Bundesliga Roundup: Battle for European places continues in Germany

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While Italy’s Catholicism prevents them from having Serie A matches on Easter Sunday, Germany’s Protestant roots appear to influence the decision not to hold games on Good Friday. But stay tuned – there will be Bundesliga matches played on Sunday, and they both could have a major impact on both ends of the table.

Thursday Results

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-3 Hannover
What a result for Hannover! Their second consecutive win puts them in a position where they’ll be at least six points clear of the drop zone when the weekend finishes. Leon Andreasen opened the scoring inside two minutes, but Martin Lanig struck back for Frankfurt before 15 minutes were out. Hannover’s determination showed through, with Lars Stindl and Didier Ya Konan putting the visitors up 3-1 before the half-hour mark. Alexander Meier pulled one back for Eintracht, but the hosts never managed to find an equalizer

Saturday Results

Augsburg 0-0 Hertha Berlin
What? A goalless draw in the Bundesliga? At least this draw most likely helped determine the top seven sides – although it likely won’t be until the end of the season that the exact order of slots 3-7 is established. But it looks like neither Augsburg or Hertha will be enjoying European competition next season.

Borussia Dortmund 4-2 Mainz
For the first hour, Mainz put up a good fight. Miloš Jojić scored first for the hosts, Robert Lewandowski second, but Shinji Okazaki was right there to pull Mainz even each time. But once Lukasz Piszczek scored the third for Dortmund in the 56th minute, the visitors fell apart. Niko Bungert was shown a straight red for a handball inside the area. Marco Reus duly converted the resulting penalty, and that was that. Dortmund stay second.

Braunschweig 0-2 Bayern Munich
It’s back to winning ways for Bayern, although bottom-side Braunschweig did do their best to give the title-holders a scare. But Claudio Pizarro broke free with fifteen minutes left to play, and Mario Mandžukić added a second ten minutes later. Now it’s time for Pep Guardiola’s men to focus on their midweek semi-final at Real Madrid.

Freiburg 4-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Well. Gladbach did a wonderful job of throwing this one away – and possibly their chance at the Champions League as well, if Leverkusen win on Sunday. The visitors took an early lead through Patrick Hermann, going into halftime up 1-0. Admir Mehmedi equalized in the 51st minute, and then Filip Daems was unable to put Gladbach in front in the 65th, with Oliver Baumann saving his penalty. Granit Xhaka saw red less than five minutes later, after which Oliver Sorg and Vladimir Darida quickly put the hosts up 3-1. Mehmedi grabbed a second with three minutes left to go, which ensured that Havard Nordtveit’s direct free kick didn’t threaten Freiburg at all.

Hamburg 1-3 Wolfsburg
It was a day of Croatian domination at the Volksparkstadion. An early goal from Ivan Perišić, followed by goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Ivica Olić, ensured a win for Wolfsburg, taking them above Leverkusen and into the last Champions League place. Ivo Iličević put one in for Hamburg, but it could only be a consolation.

Werder Bremen 3-1 Hoffenheim
Kevin Volland scored in the third minute for the visitors, but goals from Philipp Bargfrede, Santiago Garcia and Nils Petersen ensured a win for Werder Bremen. Not that it matters much – both sides are safe and neither are getting into Europe. But hey, it was still fun.

Still to come…

Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen
Big, big, big game for both sides. A win for the hosts, and they’re, well, not quite safe, but at least have a chance of remaining in the Bundesliga. A win for Leverkusen is necessary to get back into the final Champions League spot. That fourth-place finish must be seen as essential for the visitors, as for much of the season they were clear in second place.

Stuttgart vs. Schalke
And the weekend wraps up with another big one. Stuttgart need points to maintain their precarious lead over Hamburg. Schalke need points to maintain their seven-point cushion in third place, and thus don’t risk another early start in the Champions League playoff round – it’s likely one of the reasons they’ve looked so tired at times this season.

STREAM LIVE: Palace v. Spurs; Arsenal v. Leicester, relegation scrap

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Three Premier League games are coming your way on Wednesday as things continue to get very, very serious at both ends of the table.

Tottenham Hotspur head to in-form London rivals Crystal Palace looking to cut Chelsea’s lead atop the table to four points, while Arsenal host Leicester City as Arsene Wenger‘s side try to stay in the top four race.

At the opposite end of the table Middlesbrough host Sunderland in a battle between north east clubs and the bottom two teams. If either team manages a win then they’ll give themselves a slither of hope of avoiding relegation.

Stream all three games by clicking on the links below, while you can see every goal as it goes in on Premier League Goal Rush by clicking on the link below.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being very similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window.

The feature game this Wednesday on “Goal Rush” will be Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur and as goals and incidents occur around the league, you will be transported to the action as it happens.

More info is available here, plus the schedule for all three games is below. You can stream each game live by clicking on the links below or above.


3 p.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Arsenal vs. Leicester City – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Middlesbrough vs. Sudnerland – Premier League Extratime [STREAM]

Neil Taylor banned two games for Coleman tackle

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ZURICH (AP) Wales defender Neil Taylor has been banned for two World Cup qualifying games for a red-card tackle that broke the leg of an Ireland opponent.

The Welsh soccer federation said Wednesday that the FIFA disciplinary panel imposed the ban. Taylor, who plays for Swansea, will miss matches at Serbia on June 11 and against Austria on Sept. 2.

FIFA rules require a ban of at least one match for serious foul play.

Ireland captain Seamus Coleman‘s right leg was broken by Taylor’s challenge during the teams’ 0-0 draw in Dublin on March 24. The Everton defender’s leg was visibly damaged before he was carried off on a stretcher.

Ireland is second in Group D, level with Serbia. Third-place Wales trails by four points with five games left.

Video refs to be used at 2018 World Cup in Russia

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FIFA president Gianni Infantino has confirmed that video referees will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Video assistant referees (VARs) were trialed in recent international games and the FIFA Club World Cup and have proved hugely successful with decisions made quickly and correctly.

VARs can only interfere in big decisions such as goals, red cards, mistaken identities and penalties.

Via the BBC, here’s what Infantino had to say.

“We will use video refereeing at the 2018 World Cup because we’ve had nothing but positive feedback so far. If the referee made a mistake, we can’t have a situation where the only one who can’t see it is the referee.”

Infantino has long called for the introduction of video technology in soccer and now it is set to come to the biggest stage of all, with the International Football Association Board (IFAB) expected to formally vote it in.

The hope is that big decisions in huge games will no longer be called incorrectly due to human error and surely it is only a matter of time before VARs are used in the top leagues across the world. Australia’s A-League is the first top-flight league to trial the system.

Three key battles in Man City vs. Man United

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Ahead of the massive Manchester derby on Thursday at the Etihad Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) both Manchester City and Manchester United have some massive absentees through injury with Paul Pogba and Zlaan

[ LIVE: Stream every PL game live

That being said, there are still plenty of stars who will be out on the pitch and both Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho will be sure to surprise many with their team selections. With City in fourth place but just one point and one place ahead of United, this game will be crucial in the race for UEFA Champions League qualification.

[ MORE: Manchester derby, team news ]

Below is a look at three key battles on the pitch which will determine the outcome of the game.


Vincent Kompany vs. Marcus Rashford

This will perhaps be the most pivotal individual battle on the pitch. With Vincent Kompany back fit, Man City’s defense has looked incredibly solid. The Belgian star will have his hands full with a fired up Marcus Rashford though. The local lad scored the winner at the Eithad last season and with Zlatan Ibrahimovic out injured the 19-year-old has stepped up big in recent weeks. Kompany will look to step high and intercept balls into Rashford early but we all now have deceptively strong Rashford is and if he can turn Kompany early then there’s no way City’s skipper will catch him in a straight race.

Kevin De Bruyne vs. Ander Herrera

In the 2-1 win for City at United back in September (man, that seems like a long time ago) Kevin de Bruyne tore United’s midfield apart. In the first half of that game he scored the opener and his shot off the post fell to Kelechi Iheanacho for City’s second as Guardiola deployed KDB in a slightly unfamiliar central role. He was much more attacking at Old Trafford and kept winning the ball back in key area in front of United’s defense. Ander Herrera started that game on the bench that day and Mourinho brought him on at half time to quell the threat of KDB, which he did. Guardiola may play De Bruyne deeper, as he did against Arsenal recently, but the Belgian will have to get by Herrera. The Spaniard has been a terrier in Mourinho’s midfield and is having a fine season. Herrera did a wonderful man-marking job on Eden Hazard last weekend and after shaking off an injury, don’t be surprised if Mourinho puts him up against De Bruyne.

Sergio Aguero vs. Eric Bailly

Guardiola had an injury concern about Aguero but the Argentine is fit and ready and that’s bad news for United. He took his goal superbly well in the FA Cup semifinal to Arsenal at the weekend and Aguero is now second all-time in City’s goalscorers, scoring in his last five PL games on the troy. Eric Bailly has been been forced to play a lot of games this season and he went the full 120 minutes against Anderlecht last Thursday and then the full 90 against Burnley on Sunday. With Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo out through injury, Bailly will have to play again (Daley Blind will likely partner him) and his battle with Aguero will be crucial. Not to mention Aguero has eight goals in 10 appearances against United