Offshore drilling, UEFA Champions League: at Borussia Dortmund 2, Real Madrid 1

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Man of the Match: Marcel Schmelzer had spent his day pestering Ángel Di María into an uncharacteristically erratic performance before he got his chance to shine. In the 64th minute, with the score tied 1-1, a Dortmund cross was punched out of the Real Madrid area, the result ball sitting up perfectly for the BVB left back. Showing a composure we rarely see on a shot that’s usually launched into the stands, the German international kept his knee above the ball as he stroked the game-winning goal into the left half of Iker Casillas’s net, helping Borussia Dortmund upend the defending Spanish champions.

Packaged for takeaway:

  • Coming off the heals of their weekend loss to Schalke, this win was huge on a number of levels for Borussia Dortmund. Obviously, it’s an incredible way to rebound from derby disappointment, but it also puts to bed any concerns this team that has won consecutive Bundesliga titles might not be able to relay that success into Champions League. The win gave us our first glimpse of BVB’s true, Europe-contending potential.
  • Wednesday’s delivery system for that potential was their intensity. We’re used to Borussia Dortmund’s exhausting play in Germany, but we haven’t seen them put together that kind of performance in Champions League. Tonight, it happened, with every Real Madrid movement inside BVB’s half drawing an immediate reaction from Dortmund’s pressing defense.
  • That intensity helped create the first goal. A terrible pass by Pepe in the 36th minute was intercepted and transitioned to Robert Lewandowski, who took advantage of the Real Madrid defender’s positioning for an open shot on Iker Casillas. The game’s first goal beat the Spanish international just inside his right post.
  • BVB’s approach did burn them once, giving us a reminder of how the approach can be exploited by Europe’s best. In the 39th minute, Lukasz Piszczek – who had been so good to that point tracking Cristinao Ronaldo – allowed Real’s leading scorer to beat him onto a long ball over the defense from Mesut Özil. When Roman Weidenfeller misread the play and got caught in no man’s land, Ronaldo had an easy lob for the score.
  • Madrid’s moment of magic was a reminder that another team’s control can often play into their counterattacking hands, though Wednesday’s game was different. Dortmund didn’t control the game as much as they dictated it, which helps explain why Real struggled so much.
  • BVB played most of the match not the counter, conceding Real possession until they approached halfway. Then, Dortmund’s activity in the space above their high defensive line would invariably produce turnovers that funneled them into attack.
  • Where Real Madrid can normally rely on their counter to maintain a threat even when they’re outplayed, Borussia Dortmund’s tactics gave them few chances to transition.
  • Instead, it was Dortmund creating all the chances, with two nice saves from Iker Casillas in the 51st minute preventing the hosts from taking an early second half lead.
  • But Casillas, who also had a strong first half, started to falter, and in the 64th minute, one of his mistakes helped provide for the winning goal. On a cross from his left, Casillas came for an awkward punch, barely pushing the ball to the edge of the penalty area. Schmeltzer was there to collect for the game winner.
  • Though Real Madrid wasn’t at their best, this wasn’t a bad performance. Wednesday’s result was more about BVB being great (and Real not matching them) than any deficiency on Real’s part. Expect Los Merengues to have a new respect for Dortmund when the teams meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu in three weeks.
  • With the win, Borussia Dortmund moves first in Group D. Perhaps as important, they are five points up on Manchester City, who were upset in Amsterdam.

Season restart preview: Brighton and Hove Albion

Brighton season restart
Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

Brighton is next.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Seagulls when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: If there’s a team whose results don’t show the way they’ve played, it’s Brighton. Graham Potter’s Seagulls have the sixth-best possession percentage in the league, are a tidy seventh in passing, and are mid-table in tackles per game, interceptions per game, and shots per game.

[ MORE: Ranking every Brighton player in 2019-20 ]

The expected goals stats show even less reward for good work, with Brighton scoring 8.35 goals less than expected in open play and 4.38 less from corner kicks.

Despite all these good things, Brighton is two points clear of the drop zone with nine matches to play and has a terribly challenging schedule especially at the Amex Stadium.


Tactical analysis: Graham Potter has put the Seagulls in myriad formations this season, though he’s been utilizing at least four at the back since the calendar turned to 2020. He’s ready to attack but pragmatic given the club’s hopes of staving off the teams below it in the fight for PL survival.

[ MORE: The 2 Robbies assess Brighton’s chances ]


Possible XI (4-2-3-1) 

—– Ryan —–

— Montoya — Webster — Dunk — Burn —

—– Propper —– Mooy —–

— Trossard — Gross — Alzate —

—– Maupay—–

Glenn Murray and Alireza Jahanbakhsh are excellent weapons to have on the bench, and Brighton’s also got a very good center back in reserve in the form of Shame Duffy and an underrated center mid in Dale Stephens who will see playing time, too. On paper, this team is too good to go down.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Arsenal, Man City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle
Away: Leicester, Norwich, Southampton, Burnley

Predicted finish: They’ll do enough to get by, though that home fixture list is simply brutal. Safe before the final weekend.

Social media wrap: All 20 Premier League clubs, many players stand against racism

Premier League social media
@Wolves
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The protests in the United States have inspired anti-racism statements from around the world, including all gestures from all 20 Premier League clubs and many players and managers.

There have been ongoing protests and horrible violence in the U.S. since the May 25 killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for nearly nine minutes even after he stopped moving and pleaded for air in Minnesota.

Newcastle United’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin issued an emotional thread (below) as one of a great deal of players to express hopes for change and solidarity, while Schalke’s Weston McKennie explained his wearing a black armband reading “Justice For George” in the Bundesliga this weekend.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

From Ancelotti to Zaha, Antonio to Yedlin, Arsenal to Wolves, we’ve collected many of their sentiments below in what we hope serves as universal disdain for racial prejudice.

Some players like Leicester City’s Wes Morgan and even entire clubs (Arsenal) changed their online identity photos to reflect these troubled times.

All PL clubs issued messages of solidarity, many using the Black Lives Matter hashtag and making no bones about where they stand.

And we’ll start with a longtime PL club currently in the Championship, who blasted a season ticket holder’s rejection of their unifying Tweet.

Here are some other clubs and players worldwide to have noticed what’s happening in the United States.

 

Season restart preview: Bournemouth

Bournemouth season restart
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images
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With the 2019-20 Premier League season soon to restart, let’s focus on all 20 clubs and see where they stand ahead of the final nine matches of the season.

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Let’s take a closer look at all things Bournemouth when it comes to the season restart.


Outlook: Tough sledding for the Cherries, who face zero of their fellow bottom-six sides (though 13th place Newcastle and 14th place Saints both visit the Vitality Stadium).

There’s been an element of bad luck to Bournemouth’s woes, with its expected goals stats showing Ryan Fraser, Joshua King, and Callum Wilson have deserved better end product and that the Cherries’ 14 goals from open play should be closer to 22. The defense has been bad and xG says it could’ve been worse, too. Injuries had hit Bournemouth’s defense corps in a big way, too. How much better will they be after the break?

[ MORE: Ranking every Cherries player in 2019-20 ]


Tactical analysis: Eddie Howe utilized a 4-4-2 with two defensive midfielders for much of the early season, but has gone between a lone striker with a packed-in midfielder and a 4-3-3 when he thinks an opponent is exploitable.

Howe started a 4-4-2 against almost all of the Cherries’ remaining opponents, choosing a 5-4-1 against Wolves and Man City. There’s no guarantee he’ll continue that, especially when some matches may dictate a draw or limited goal differential damage over wins.


Possible XI (4-3-3) 

—– Ramsdale —–

— Smith — S. Cook — Ake — Rico —

—– Lerma —– Billing — L. Cook —

— Fraser —– C. Wilson —– King —–

Howe prefers to attack when at all possible, but the points will be at a premium against some very challenging opponents. It’s a safe bet that he’ll ask a lot from his forwards while trying to deploy his three relentless midfielders together whenever possible. The question here is whether Aaron Ramsdale returns quickly from his COVID-19 positive test, or if it’ll be Artur Boruc or someone else between the sticks.


[ STREAM: Every PL match live ]

Remaining schedule
Home: Crystal Palace, Newcastle, Spurs, Leicester City, Southampton
Away: Wolves, Manchester United, Man City, Everton

Predicted finish: The Cherries stay up, just, as King and Callum Wilson deliver the goods in front of a determined and improved midfield.

Premier League clubs will reportedly be allowed preseason friendlies

Premier League return
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Premier League clubs will be allowed to play preseason matches ahead of the 2019-20’s restart season later this month.

There will be strict protocols due to the coronavirus pandemic, however, and the matches will likely be officiated by club coaching staffs (We have so many Jose Mourinho as ref quips to make here, but let’s keep going anyway).

[ MORE: Remaining PL schedule in full ]

Sky Sports says clubs will be limited to opponents within 90 minutes of their venue, and that players will have to drive themselves to the stadiums and go directly to the field in uniform.

With the League One and League Two seasons still hanging in the balance, it’s likely PL sides will be limited to each other and Championship sides. Presumably clubs will not want to meet others still on their fixture list.

We assume some players will get dressed in their vehicles outside the ground, but allow yourself some levity in these challenging times and imagine a fully kitted-up Virgil van Dijk driving the roads from Liverpool to Wigan Athletic.