Bayern Munich 2-2 (5-4, PKs) Chelsea: Late Javi Martínez goal, penalty kicks give Germans UEFA Super Cup

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In a match reminiscent of the last time Chelsea faced Pep Guardiola, Chelsea came within seconds of claiming the club’s third piece of European trophy in 15 months. But with a last gasp goal from Javi Martínez and a win in Friday’s penalty shootout, Bayern Munich dramatically claimed the first trophy of their Guardiola era, scoring on the last kick of the game to take a 2-2 (5-4) and their first UEFA Super Cup.

Bayern controlled play throughout the night, maintaining 73 percent possession while outshooting the Blues 31-14 in Prague. But employing a blueprint that’s found success in Guardiola’s clubs, Chelsea ceded possession in favor of defensive organization, their counter attack giving them the advantage by the end of regulation time. Eventually, however, Bayern took advantage of Chelsea’s bend-don’t-break approach, getting a goal with the last kick of the match ahead of their shootout triumph.

Chelsea opened the scoring early, with Fernando Torres converting on the match’s first major chance in the eighth minute. A Franck Ribéry goal two minutes after half time seemed to put Bayern on the road to victory, their possession plus the eventual dismissal of Ramires leaving everything in the European champions’ favor. But with their counterattack come alive, Chelsea generated a goal two minutes into extra time through Eden Hazard.

That goal looked set to give Chelsea their second Super Cup, but in the 122nd minute, a ball fell to an unmarked Martínez eight yards from goal. Petr Cech couldn’t get across in time to prevent an easy finish inside his right post, improbably sending the match to penalty kicks.

The first nine kicks of the shootout were converted, with Bayern making it through the entire run of takers without a miss. But with the last shot before the clubs were forced to find more kickers, Romelu Lukaku rolled a shot just to the right of Manuel Neuer, the Bayern keeper having no trouble securing Germany’s first UEFA Super Cup.

CHELSEA CONVERT EARLY; BAYERN TAKE CONTROL

Today’s match had been anticipated less as a meeting of last year’s Champions and Europa League winners than as a battle between former coaching rivals. For two years, Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola and Chelsea manager José Mourinho were on opposite sides of the Barcelona-Real Madrid divide, the two bosses splitting Spanish titles during Mourinho’s two years in the Santiago Bernabeu. The pre-match attention to the rivals, who had a contentious relationship in Spain, overshadowed the issues on the field, like three Bayern’s best midfielders being unable to start (Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martínez, and Thiago Alcantera).

The absences forced Guardiola into a strange XI. Captain Philipp Lahm was forced from his typical right back position into midfield, starting with Thomas Müller above Toni Kroos as Rafinha started at right back.

source: APThat midfield proved lacking in the eighth minute, with Bayern unable to ride Eden Hazard off the ball as the Chelsea attack carved his way through the European champions. Carrying the ball just inside the attacking third, Hazard put André Schurrle behind the defense on the right flank, the German international quickly playing a ball for Fernando Torres near the spot. A classy one-time finish half-volleyed the bouncing ball into the right of net, giving Manuel Neuer little chance to stop the opener.

Bayern went on to monopolize possession throughout the remainder of the half, eventually figuring out tenacious high pressing from Chelsea that troubled them through the match’s opening minutes. At intermission, they’d held 72 percent of the ball, though that dominance of possession only translated to three shots on goal. While Bayern created some moments of danger playing balls from wide into the six-yard box, Petr Cech’s half ended an unblemished one. The Blues, outshot 10-4 over 45 minutes, were up 1-0 at Jonas Eriksson’s whistle.

Two minutes into the second half, Franck Ribéry provided Chelsea’s first blemish, with Cech failing at a try he’d normally stop. Cutting in from the right, Ribéry let go of a shot from near 22 yards out. Neither struck especially hard nor brilliantly placed, the ball still found its way past Cech, whose slightly delayed response meant the Chelsea keeper could only get a fingertip on the early second half equalizer.

CHELSEA’S PLAN COMES TO FRUITION

As the second half went on, Bayern’s dominance increased, the nature of the game reminiscent of the last time Chelsea faced Guardiola: The semifinals of the 2011-12 Champions League. Then, Barcelona dominated play over two legs only to be eliminated by Roberto Di Matteo’s Blues, whose counterattack eventually saw the Blues past the reigning European champions. Chelsea went on to claim the European title, beating Bayern in the Munich final.

As Javi Martínez came on for Rafinha (pushed Lahm to right back) and Mario Götze replaced Thomas Muller, Bayern’s dominance persisted. Though Chelsea were able to cause the Germans a couple of moments’ pause — including a David Luiz header off the crossbar in the 79th minute — the game maintained it’s Barça versus Chelsea feel. The Blues’ defense continued to bend, willing to collapse deep into their own box, with Bayern’s passing around the edges pushing eight or nine players within 22 yards of goal. Still, as Chelsea found it easier to pass through Bayern’s midfield coming out of their own end, the Blues looked just as likely to find a winner as Bayern.

source: APThen in the 85th minute, shortly after Luiz forced a sprawling stop from Neuer, Chelsea lost a man, with a clumsy foul on Mario Götze that could have warranted a straight red earning Ramires a second yellow. Though the Blues were proving increasingly dangerous in transition, with a number of mistakes by Dante giving Chelsea hope of snatching victory, Chelsea would go into extra time with only 10, the match ending regulation time tied, 1-1.

But that disadvantage wasn’t enough to stop Chelsea’s building momentum, the Blues’ finally seeing their counterattacking pay off two minutes into extra time. A beautiful ball out of the back from David Luiz found  Hazard wide left, the Belgian international able to cut inside past Lahm and Jerome Boateng to get a right-footed shot off from 16 yards out. The day’s second goalkeeping mistake saw the try get through Manuel Neuer, giving Chelsea a 92nd minute lead.

After the extra time’s break, Bayern’s desperation started to show through, producing two standout saves from Cech in the 109th minute. In the 113th minute, a ball headed down for Xherdan Shaqiri looked set to produce an equalizer before a sprawling block from Gary Cahill kept Chelsea in front. In the 118th minute, Cech produced his finest save of the match, denying Ribéry’s free kick equalizer on a diving stop at his right post.

But in extra time’s extra time, Chelsea’s bend finally broke, with a ball falling to Martinez in the 122nd minute sending the match to penalty kicks. To the left of a crowd of people just outside Cech’s six-yard box, Martínez, having been pushed to a striker’s position,, slotted an easy left-footed finish inside Cech’s right post. With one of the last touches of the match, Bayern made it 2-2.

PENALTY KICKS

David Alaba opened the penalty kick shootout by sending Cech the wrong way before finishing into the left of goal. Luiz, Chelsea’s first kicker, slammed an unstoppable shot inside the right post, making it 1-1.

Kroos put Bayern’s second try into the lower right hand corner as Cech drove the opposite direction, while Oscar restored the tie with the next kick, finishing high into the left of Neuer’s goal.

Lahm went the same direction, sneaking his shot past Cech into the lower left corner to make it 3-2. Then, Frank Lampard, who had a penalty kick saved in Premier League action in the Blues’ opener against Hull City, converted his shot, finishing high into the right of goal.

source: Getty ImagesRibéry’s choppy run-up on Bayern’s fourth try finished with a conversion inside the right post, while Ashley Cole’s follow-up brought gasps from the crowd as it went off the right post and into the left side-netting.

Xherdan Shaqiri barely pushed Bayern’s fifth attempt past a diving Cech, who’d guessed correctly on the try to his left.  That conversation paved the way for the night’s decisive moment, with Lukaku’s try just to the right of Neuer saved, giving Bayern their first Super Cup.

Lineups

Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer; Rafinha (Javi Martínez 56′), Jerome Boateng, Dante, David Alaba; Toni Kroos; Arjen Robben (Xherdan Shaqiri 95′), Philipp Lahm, Thomas Müller (Mario Götze 71′), Franck Ribéry; Mario Mandzukic.

Chelsea: Petr Cech; Branislav Ivanovic, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, Ashley Cole; Frank Lampard, Ramires; Andre Schurrle (John Obi Mikel 87′), Oscar, Eden Hazard (John Terry 113′); Fernando Torres (Romelu Lukaku 98′).

Transfer rumors: Fred to Man United; Icardi to Chelsea

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Brazilian midfielder Fred seems to be edging closer to a move to Manchester United after being chased by Manchester City for much of the last 12 months.

[ MORE: UCL final projected XI’s

The Shakhtar Donetsk star, 25, is a central midfielder who was supposed to be a long-term replacement for Fernandinho at City, but it appears Jose Mourinho has now swooped in to snap up the combative midfielder after Pep Guardiola‘s interest went cold.

Speaking in a press conference while away with the Brazilian national team, Fred believes that United have a bid in place for him with the midfielder previously valued at around $55 million.

“The talks had been in progress since January with City. Soon after, City and United talked to Shakhtar and my agents,” Fred said, via Globo Esporte. “And now, if I’m not mistaken, there was news of a very strong bid from United.”

Do United need Fred?

With Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay all at the club, the Brazilian’s arrival may well see Herrera, and maybe even Pogba, surplus to requirements.

Following Michael Carrick‘s retirement at the end of the 2017/18 season and Marouane Fellaini‘s contract soon to run out, Mourinho needs reinforcements in central midfield and Fred fits the bill as a two-way midfielder not scared to dig in and do his work defensively.


Chelsea have been linked with a move for Inter Milan’s star striker Mauro Icardi.

According to reports from Cadena Ser in Spain and Italian outlet Il Messaggero, Morata could head to Inter if Icardi ends up at Stamford Bridge.

Icardi, 25, was the joint-top goalscorer in Serie A in 2017/18 with 29 goals but the Argentine forward failed to make the final World Cup squad for La Albiceleste.

As for Morata, the Spanish forward also didn’t make the World Cup squad for his native Spain after a stop-start season at Chelsea under Antonio Conte. Morata, 25, was spotted meeting with the Juventus hierarchy earlier this week as the Real Madrid product spent two seasons at Juve from 2014-16 before heading back to Real en-route to Chelsea.

Would this be a good move for Chelsea?

Such has been Morata’s poor form in his debut season in the Premier League (yes, 15 goals in 48 appearances in all competitions is a decent return, but it’s not remarkable), they would no doubt have to send Morata and plenty of cash to Inter in exchange for their captain. Chelsea paid Real Madrid $80 million for Morata last summer and the reports claim they would have to send Morata plus $40 million to Inter to bring Icardi to the Bridge.

The latter has had plenty of temperament issues over the years but his status as a poacher is undoubted as his goals fired Inter back into the UEFA Champions League this season following their dramatic final day win at Lazio. Yet it’s tough to see Inter letting their skipper leave the San Siro this summer as he’s the key reason why they’re back in the Champions League.

UCL final preview: Real Madrid v. Liverpool

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  • Real Madrid aiming to win a third-straight UCL trophy
  • Liverpool hope to win sixth Champions League trophy
  • Real win would extend their record of most European titles to 13
  • Klopp has lost all five major finals as a manager

Real Madrid and Liverpool square off in Kiev, Ukraine on Saturday in the final of the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: UCL final projected XI’s ]

Cristiano Ronaldo vs. Mohamed Salah. Spain vs. England. Zinedine Zidane vs. Jurgen Klopp.

It promises to be an open, entertaining game with attacking stars littered throughout both teams, but we all know how often finals fail to deliver goals and excitement with so much on the line.

[ MORE: Klopp praises Real Madrid

In team news Real have a fully fit squad as Gareth Bale has returned from injury and has been among the goals with four in his last three appearances. Liverpool are without Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but the likes of James Milner and Adam Lallana are fit to feature for the Reds.


What they’re saying

Jurgen Klopp on preparing for the final: “Nothing special in this week. We only have an agreement that I am responsible for the defeats, so they have nothing to lose. I think most of the players will be a bit nervous before the game, that is normal but in the game shoot, strike, cross, make headers, bicycle kicks if you want. Do all the things you want in a football game because it is only a football game, a big one for sure, but only a football game.”

Zinedine Zidane on the threat of Liverpool: “It may be the toughest final we’ve had. We’ll certainly not be thinking that Liverpool is weaker than other teams, because they’re not. They’ve earned their right to be in the final thanks to their performances. They’ve played well and knocked out top teams. It’s been a while since they reached their last final, but it’s a club with great history and knows how to play in these matches. We’ll have to be at our best on every level, not just physically. They’re an English team, so will never give up. But they not only rely on their physical attributes, but they are also good technically, with lots of speed and great players.”


Prediction

This promises to be an absolutely stunning game with so many wonderful attacking talents on the pitch at the same time. Liverpool are the slight underdogs and Real Madrid have plenty of experience after winning back-to-back UCL trophies, but you get the sense of an upset in the air. That said, I think it’s going to be another success for Ronaldo and Co. 3-2 to Real Madrid.

Germany’s ‘golden generation’ primed for World Cup defense

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BERLIN (AP) Germany coach Joachim Loew is brimming with confidence just over three weeks before what he calls the country’s “golden generation” begins its World Cup defense against Mexico.

“I have a very good feeling,” Loew said at the team’s training camp in South Tyrol, Italy. “I don’t know what will happen with this golden generation after the tournament. It’s possible there will be a break-up. But all the players are on fire for the World Cup.”

Germany is one of the favorites in Russia despite the retirements of Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Miroslav Klose since winning the tournament in Brazil four years ago.

Players like Toni Kroos, Sami Khedira, Mats Hummels and Thomas Mueller have grown into leading figures with the side, which wrapped up qualification with 10 wins from 10 games and 43 goals, a record number of goals for a European team in qualifying.

Now they are charged with attempting to make Germany the first team to retain the title since Brazil in 1962.

“I don’t have to coax new craving or new enthusiasm from the players,” Loew said in comments reported by news agency dpa. “The craving and ambition are still there, even among those who became world champions.”

Germany’s only worries concern the fitness of captain Manuel Neuer, defender Jerome Boateng and midfielder Mesut Ozil. Neuer hasn’t played since September with a hairline fracture in his left foot after being injured in training. Boateng is still recovering from a thigh injury sustained in the Champions League semifinals. Ozil missed Arsenal’s last few games of the season with back problems.

Team doctor Hans-Wilhelm Mueller-Wohlfahrt gave Ozil the green light to start training with the team and he was to decide Friday if Boateng should stay in Munich for further treatment or join the squad.

“We don’t want to make any mistakes,” Loew said of Boateng. “I think he’ll be able to at least take part in some team training next week.”

Neuer, too, is being given every chance to prove his fitness. Loew named four goalkeepers in his 27-man preliminary squad and is hoping that the 32-year-old Neuer won’t be the one sent home before FIFA’s June 4 deadline for final squads to be submitted.

“He can tolerate all the strains, even the most strenuous strains like jumping,” Loew said. “If he has the feeling he can perform at 100 percent he can be at the World Cup.”

Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen will keep the No. 1 spot if Neuer doesn’t recover fully.

Ter Stegen was to join the rest of the squad on Friday, along with Bayern’s Hummels, Mueller, Joshua Kimmich and Niklas Suele, as well as Chelsea defender Antonio Ruediger.

“It’s clear to everyone that the training camp is to get the required strength and power for the tournament. The fuel has to be there,” said Loew, who also hopes it boosts team spirit. “Everyone has to know that he is just a puzzle piece for success. Nobody can be world champion on their own.”

Loew recently signed a contract extension through the next World Cup in Qatar in 2022. The 58-year-old former assistant coach took over after the 2006 World Cup and has led Germany to the semifinal stage or further in every major tournament since.

Germany has two warmup matches, against Austria in Klagenfurt on June 2 and Saudi Arabia six days later in Leverkusen, to iron out any pre-tournament issues.

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Klopp hails Real Madrid; plots upset in UCL final

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Jurgen Klopp has placed all of the pressure on Real Madrid ahead of the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine on Saturday.

[ MORE: UCL final projected XI’s ]

The Liverpool manager spoke to the media on Friday ahead of the showpiece final and revealed his admiration for Zinedine Zidane and his superstars, with Real hoping to win a third-straight UCL trophy and a record 13th European title.

Liverpool (five-time winners themselves) are the slight underdogs but the way Klopp was talking suggested this final was a proper David vs. Goliath battle.

It seems as though the pressure is off his players, as Klopp (who has lost all five of his major finals as a manager) believes the experience of Real is key but still thinks his players are quite capable of causing an upset.

“Experience is very important. I am pretty sure in the second before the game Real Madrid will be more confident than we are but the game doesn’t end in that second, it only starts. When you see Real Madrid play you say ‘wow they are really strong’ but they never played us,” Klopp said. “But we are here because we are Liverpool. We are not only a really good football team. This club has it in its DNA that it can really go for the big things.

“Nobody expected us to be here, but we are here. Because we are Liverpool. Because we have the games we had in the Champions League, the most exceptional run to the final, the most goals, I cannot believe that it is true… but it’s us. We scored the most goals, we had exceptional results away and at home, all of that stuff. The experience they have is a big advantage. 100 percent. To feel confident, or whatever, but in the game experience doesn’t help all the time.”

Wow. Okay.

Klopp is clearly trying to take the pressure off his players and the fact that he also lavished praise on Zidane ahead of the final shows how much respect Liverpool have for the team who have won the most European titles in history.

But are the Reds going too far here? Klopp added the following as he continued with the underdog theme.

“We have to make it as difficult as possible for them. That’s the plan of course,” Klopp said. “We cannot try to fight on their level but tactics in football are there to bring a better opponent on your level. When they are on your level you can beat them. That’s hard to do, but I think it’s worth a try.”

This just seems like Liverpool are giving Real a little too much respect ahead of the game. After all, no team has scored more goals than Liverpool in the UCL this season plus they have the hottest player in the world in Mohamed Salah on their side.

It’s tough to question Klopp given what he has achieved in the UCL this season but he does seem to have gone a little over the top here as he portrayed his Liverpool side as massive underdogs in the final.