Germany will be without one of their star attackers for their Round of 16 match against Algeria on Monday.
Arsenal forward Lukas Podolski is out with a leg injury and German head coach Joachim Low said it would be a “big risk” to let Podolski play and possibly worsen the injury but that he will be available for later games “if we manage to advance.”
Podolski, 29, has played in two of Germany’s games thus far and started in their final Group G game vs. the U.S. However after suffering the leg injury, Podolski was replaced at half time by Miroslav Klose and Podolski only played eight minutes in Germany’s 4-0 demolition of Portugal in the group stages.
Given his playing time so far, Podolski’s loss won’t impact the German side too much but he is a great option off the bench and certainly gave the U.S. plenty of problems down their right-flank in the first half in Recife on Thursday.
The Arsenal forward has played 116 times for Germany, scoring 47 goals during his international career. The Polish-born German striker has a wealth of experience in big tournaments under his belt as he has now played in the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, plus the European Championships in ’04, ’08 and ’12.
He is third all-time on the list as the most-capped German players behind Klose and Lothar Matthaus.
His impact on games may be dwindling but Podolski’s experience and ability to finish when it really matters will be hugely important to Germany if they get past Algeria and make their expected deep run towards the World Cup final.
Not risking Podolski looks like being a smart move by the German national team.
Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.
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Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City
Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.
Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth
The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.
But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.
Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace
Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a
Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland
Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.
One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.
Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.
The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.
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That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.
“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”
A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?
Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.
Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.
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A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.
Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.
Click play on the video above to watch it.
There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.
So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.
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On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.
That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.
Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.