Bayern Munich seek record-tying win at Viktoria Plzen

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In the coming days, you probably won’t hear much about this match on PST. With 16 UEFA Champions League games spread over two days, there are more compelling stories than Bayern Munich’s visit to Viktoria Plzen. When the continent’s best team makes a trip to one of the tournament’s weakest sides, you can excuse us not trying to fabricate drama (he says, fully away Bayern lost in Belarus last year).

Note: Nobody’s calling the match meaningless. How can they when the German champions are on the verge of tying a European record? If Pep Guardiola’s team beats the Czech champions on Tuesday, they equal Barcelona’s mark for longest Champions League winning streak. Heavy favorites to claim a victory that could put them into the knockout round (with help from Manchester City), Bayern will run their winning streak to nine should they take care of business in Plzen.

The current record is held by Barcelona, but not the version you assume. Back in 2002-03, the Blaugrana won nine in a row, sweeping through group stage (six wins) before winning their first three matches in  second group stage. A 0-0 draw at Internazionale on Feb. 26 not only ended their run but also augured trouble against Italian opponents. Barça would go out of the competition in the quarterfinals, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Juventus.

In that way, Bayern’s potential record is would be more impressive than Barcelona’s, the Germans having accumulated half their wins in the competition’s knockout round. Bayern won four-in-a-row to close last year’s tournament, defeating Milan, Juventus (twice), Barcelona (twice), and Borussia Dortmund en route to their fifth European Cup.

“Records are special,” Bayern midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger said. “While the chance is here, we want to break as many as possible.”

Schweinsteiger teammate Mario Götze, also available at Monday’s press conference, said the team’s focus is on the competition, not the record.

“We want to qualify for the last 16 as quickly as possible,” the Bayern midfielder explained. “It’ll be easier to approach the remaining games knowing we’ve qualified, and we have plenty of matches in the next few weeks”.

Making the last 16 isn’t going to be a problem. Although Guardiola was quick to note Plzen won 6-1 in league this weekend, Bayern destroyed the Czech champions 5-0 two weeks ago – the underlying gap between the teams one of the larger you can imagine in modern Champions League. Plzen should be better at home, but unless Bayern’s complicit in an upset, they’re going to tie the record.

And with a little help in Manchester, they could also secure a place in the tournament’s last 16. Both Götze and history can be happy.

Video: Goalkeeping error grants Suarez, Uruguay gift

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Luis Suarez was clearly upset with his lack of finishing in Uruguay’s opener last Friday, but the Barcelona man is finally on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup.

The veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute after a close-range finish off of a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais came out to try and collect the cross, however, he was slow in his reaction, allowing the ball to slip through to Suarez for the easy finish.

The Uruguayans will reach the Round of 16 with one match remaining if they hold on to their 1-0 lead.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

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The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain

Arena says there’s no reason for Pulisic to leave Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic has been the subject of transfer talks for some time now after becoming an instant star at Borussia Dortmund, but one of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s former coaches says it might be wise for him to stay put; at least for now.

MORE: Ronaldo scores fourth goal in World Cup ]

Former USMNT boss Bruce Arena spoke about Pulisic, who has had rumors of moves to Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United surrounding him recently.

Arena cited consistent playing time as the main reason why Pulisic may want to consider holding off on a transfer for now.

“I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.

“In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.

“Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”

Pulisic has spent three seasons at Dortmund, scoring 12 goals in all competitions during that span.