Will Nurnberg spend next season in 2.Bundesliga?

Bundesliga Roundup: Have the bottom three been decided?

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With just two rounds left after this weekend, maybe it’s worth giving a quick glance to the structure of the Bundesliga. In Germany’s top division, the bottom two sides get relegated to 2. Bundesliga, while the top two sides in the second division are promoted. What’s unique is that, instead of a four-team playoff for the third promotion place, the third-placed second division side takes on the side third from bottom in the Bundesliga.

Oh, and the tiebreaker is goal difference, followed by total goals scored.

That means this weekend more or less cemented the bottom three sides. Depending on how Hamburg fare against Augsburg on Sunday, Braunschweig might be certainly relegated. They certainly can’t finish higher than the playoff slot, while Nurnberg’s only hope is scoring enough goals to overcome a very poor goal difference.

Friday Results

Hannover 0-0 Stuttgart
A rare goalless draw in the Bundesliga – and one that has little effect on the table. Stuttgart are 15th, but with a five point advantage over Hamburg, a drop looks unlikely. Hannover are nine points clear and are now set to start planning for next season…possibly by finding a way to be less boring.

Saturday Results

Hoffenheim 0-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Not one but two goalless draws in the BuLi this weekend? It’s almost as if they no longer want to entertain us. This result is particularly surprising coming from Hoffenheim, who’ve scored 67 goals while conceding 66. It also means Hoffenheim won’t be in Europa League next season.

Wolfsburg 2-2 Freiburg
Wolfsburg threw away a great chance to take fourth, Germany’s last Champions League position. Ivan Perišić put his side up after just three minutes, but Admir Mehmedi put in the equalizer with thirty minutes left to go. That lasted less than ten minutes before Perišić got on the end of a ball from Christian Träsch to put his side ahead once more. But Freiburg’s quick counter put Marco Terrazzino past the Wolfsburg defense, securing the point for the visitors – a point that just might keep Wolfsburg out of Europe’s top tournament.

Mainz 2-0 Nurnberg
Shinji Okazaki and Christoph Moritz had the hosts up 2-0 by the halftime break, but Nurnberg just never managed to get a toe in the game. With just one shot on target, is it really surprising that they’re almost certainly going down?

Hertha Berlin 2-0 Braunschweig
Another game, another dooming to relegation. Well, technically Braunschweig can still make the playoff, but it’s highly unlikely they’ll be playing in the top division next season. As for Hertha, second half goals from John Anthony Brooks and Sami Allagui gave them the win, but their poor showing in the second half means it’s just a second straight Bundesliga season for them, without any European play.

Bayern Munich 5-2 Werder Bremen
Yet another match in which a struggling side poked the dozing giant. With an eye on Real Madrid’s visit on Tuesday, Pep Guardiola fielded a slightly weakened side. So Theodor Gebre Selassie’s goal in the 10th minute wasn’t that surprising. Franck Ribéry equalized ten minutes later, but a goal from Aaron Hunt put the visitors back in front at the break. Then Bayern hit back, with a brace from Claudio Pizarro, a fourth from Bastien Schweinsteiger and a final strike from substitute Arjen Robben.

Bayer Leverkusen 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Why bother defending? Surely it’s not necessary when one side is pushing to keep control of second, and the other really needs all three points to maintain their fourth place position. Fortunately for Leverkusen, Wolfsburg could only manage a draw, so they keep a one point advantage in the last Champions League spot. All the goals came in the first 40 minutes, with Lars Bender starting out the scoring in the 7th minute. Oliver Kirch equalized in the 29th minute, but Gonzalo Castro’s header put the hosts ahead once more in the 35th. But a handball from Roberto Hilbert gave Marco Reus the chance to step up to the spot, and the penalty put Dormund back on level terms. 

Sunday Fixtures

Augsburg vs. Hamburg
If Hamburg don’t get a win here, they could still technically save themselves if Stuttgart lose their last two and Hamburg win out. But considering their last two games are against Bayern and Mainz, three points here might be their best chance at not going into a playoff. Augsburg, though, can still squeeze themselves into the final Europa League place – if they want it, that is.

Schalke vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
A tasty match to send the weekend out in style (we hope, anyway). Leverkusen are a little too close to third for Schalke’s comfort, and a win here could help assure them of going straight to the Champions League group stages. Gladbach are six out of the Champions League and still hold out hope for that final spot, although last week’s loss to Freiburg may have condemned them to Europa League already.

Premier League Preview: Middlesbrough vs. Hull City

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  • Teams have only met twice in PL before
  • Boro have 6 draws from 13 games
  • Hull have won just once in last 11 PL games

Middlesbrough host Hull City at the Riverside Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) in what can already be described as a six-pointer in the Premier League between two newly-promoted teams.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE HERE

Boro has won just once at home in the Premier League this season and sits on 12 points, while Hull has only won once on the road and Mike Phelan‘s side has just one victory in their last 11 games as the Tigers sit in the relegation zone on 11 points.

In team news Hull’s Sam Clucas and Ryan Mason are available but Abel Hernandez and Shaun Maloney are both struggling with injuries and striker Dieumerci Mbokani is suspended. As for Boro, Daniel Ayala could return but George Friend is still out.

What they’re saying

Aitor Karanka on Boro’s bad luck: “I think for example against Stoke we could have won and against Watford and Crystal Palace we didn’t deserve to lose. But the truth is we have 12 points and one day we will not deserve to win and we will win. When you have been working in the Championship for two and a half years and know how tough every single game is, having the opportunity to work against the best teams in the world is amazing, but we know we have to improve every single day.”

Hull boss Phelan on the story so far: “We can talk about spirit and determination but we can apply that by taking the games on and getting in front. That still requires the same sort of detail but you can see the players are grafting. They are learning and observing things. It’s possibly taken us this far to understand where we’re at and what league we’re in.”

Prediction

This will be a tight encounter and it may not be pretty. Both teams need the points to drag themselves away from an increasingly congested relegation battle. 1-o to ‘Boro.

Blatter loses appeal against six-year ban

ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - JULY 20: Comedian Simon Brodkin (not pictured) throws cash at FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during a press conference at the Extraordinary FIFA Executive Committee Meeting at the FIFA headquarters on July 20, 2015 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)
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Sepp Blatter should get the message this time.

[ MORE: Zlatan defends kick ]

It was announced on Monday that the former president of FIFA from 1998 until 2015 has lost his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) over a six-year ban from all soccer related activity.

After being found guilty of making an illegal payment of $1.65 million to the former head of UEFA, and close friend, Michel Platini, in 2011, the Swiss official has already had his initial eight-year ban reduced to six and Platini had his eight-year ban reduced to four years.

However, Blatter has reached the end game and at the age of 80, it is unlikely he will ever hold any position in world soccer ever again.

Plus, Blatter has the small matter of still being investigated by the Swiss authorities who are looking into FIFA’s records, and the FBI continues to arrest and charge officials within world soccer’s governing body due to allegations of widespread corruption over the past two decades.

Things could get much worse than a six-year ban for Blatter.

In a statement released by CAS, they revealed why Blatter’s appealed had been turned down:

“The appeal of Joseph S. Blatter has been dismissed. As a consequence, the decision rendered by the FIFA Appeal Committee (FIFA AC) on 16 February 2016 remains in force and Mr Blatter remains banned from taking part in any football-related activity at national and international level for six years as from 8 October 2015 and must pay a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs.

“By approving a payment of £1.3m to Mr Platini in 2011 for the balance of work carried out under the alleged oral agreement, Mr Blatter breached the FIFA Code of Ethics since the payment amounted to an undue gift as it had no contractual basis.

“The Panel further found that Mr Blatter unlawfully awarded contributions to Mr Platini under the FIFA Executive Committee retirement scheme which also amounted to an undue gift.”

Aguero banned four games, Fernandinho gets three

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The English FA have confirmed that Manchester City duo Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho will be banned for four and three games respectively after being sent off late in the 3-1 defeat against Chelsea last weekend.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Aguero, 28, lunged in on David Luiz and was shown a straight red card for the tackle (if you can even call it that) and Fernandinho, 31, was sent off in the ensuing melee as he pushed Cesc Fabregas repeatedly and grabbed him around the throat.

In the case of Aguero, he would have already been banned for three games but his punishment has been extended by an extra game due to his suspended three-game ban which he received for elbowing West Ham’s Winston Reid back in August.

As for Fernandinho, he has been handed the standard three-game ban for being sent off for violent conduct.

Pep Guardiola‘s City ended the game with nine-men against Chelsea and looked frustrated after blowing a 1-0 half time lead as they lost 3-1 against the Premier League leaders.

Without Aguero and Fernandinho, their upcoming games against Leicester, Watford and Arsenal are now looking very difficult, plus Nicolas Otamendi will be unavailable against Leicester this Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com) due to picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.

With regards to the melee at the end of Chelsea’s win at City, it is expected the FA may fine both teams for their actions and Fabregas could also be implicated as some camera angles appeared to show him striking Fernandinho in the face first.

Let’s wait and see.

As for City, injuries and suspension are adding up and they’re now four points behind leaders Chelsea, plus they’ll have to do without their leading score Aguero who has 10 of their 30 goals in the Premier League.

A chance has now arrived for City’s only other central striker as 20-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho will likely be given the opportunity to lead the line, or if not Nolito or Kevin De Bruyne may operate as the highest player in a false nine formation.

Ibrahimovic denies deliberately kicking Coleman in the head

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Manchester United tangles with Seamus Coleman of Everton as they battle for the ball during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Zlatan Ibrahimovic was involved in an incident in the second half of Manchester United’s 1-1 draw at Everton on Sunday which have raised a few eyebrows.

[ VIDEO: Rojo red card? ]

As Zlatan and Everton defender Seamus Coleman tussled for the ball, the duo fell down and the Manchester United striker eventually fell on top of Coleman.

However, as he went to get up he kicked Coleman in the head and the Toffees’ right back was later subbed out with an apparent head injury.

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Ibrahimovic was asked about the incident.

The response of the 35-year-old striker — who scored once again for the Red Devils to take his tally this season to 12 — to the incident was not exactly the perfect PR answer…

“It was a physical game, they played hard,” Ibrahimovic explained. “I heard one of the commentators say I kicked someone in the head on purpose, but it was a 50/50 duel and he pulled me down. Trust me if I want to kick someone in the head, I know how to kick someone in the head and make him fall asleep. That is the only thing I have to say.”

It is unlikely that Zlatan will be facing any further action from the FA for the kick out but I look at that incident and say he was lucky to escape with a petulant act. He knew where Coleman was and took a chance on leaving his boot in and letting the Everton defender know he was there.

Sure, it may have been accidental but anybody who has played the game knows you can get away with certain things and when a master of the “dark arts” such as Zlatan is involved, I find it tough to believe he didn’t know what he was doing.

It was unnecessary from Zlatan and the act seemed to steam from the frustration of playing up top on his own against a bruising Everton defense.