Bundesliga Wrap: Goals and comebacks galore

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It didn’t seem as though Bundesliga’s 12th round was going to be all that exciting. The weekend started off with a Friday night thriller between Hannover and Braunschweig. On Saturday, most of the top brass faced opponents that should’ve given them little trouble. Sure, some sides close to the top five may have had an opportunity to move a couple places, but overall, it looked as though it would be fairly standard weekend in Germany.

And then…

Friday

Hannover 0-0 Braunschweig
It may have been goalless, but it wasn’t a snooze. Both sides demonstrated some excellent defensive capabilities, but it was Braunschweig that impressed the most. Hannover had the majority of possession and sent a plethora of shots at the visitors’ goal, but, thanks to Deniz Dogan in particular, Braunschweig were able to keep a clean sheet. They’re still deep in the drop zone, but four points from two matches shows they might be pulling themselves out of the muck.

Saturday

Bayer Leverkusen 5-3 Hamburg
Well, this one was a thriller. A brace from Son Heung-Min put Leverkusen ahead by the 16th minute, but Maximillian Beister pulled one back for Hamburg before the half ended. Pierre-Michel Lasogga equalized shortly after the restart, but Son didn’t much care for that, so he completed his hat-trick minutes later. Then Stefan Kießling put in another for Leverkusen in the 72nd, but Lasogga had Hamburg within reach again two minutes later. In the 89th minute, however, Gonzalo Castro put the game out of reach. Thanks to the three points, Leverkusen are once more even with Dortmund. How?

Wolfsburg 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Because Dortmund lost, that’s how. Possibly still suffering from their Champions League loss to Arsenal midweek, Dortmund just couldn’t hang on to the lead they’d grabbed, courtesy of Marco Reus, moments before the halftime whistle. Ricardo Rodriguez scored from a direct free kick, then Ivica Olic put in Wolfsburg’s second. Despite having twenty minutes left to find an equalizer, or even a winner, BVB could do no more than hit the post. That’s four consecutive wins for Wolfsburg, who are now fifth in the table.

Bayern Munich 3-0 Augsburg
The Dortmund loss also means Bayern have pulled further ahead in the standings, now four points clear after their routine win over Augsburg. Jerome Boateng, Franck Ribéry, and Thomas Müller got the goals. Augsburg…didn’t even get a shot on target.

Hoffenheim 2-3 Hertha Berlin
Hertha Berlin almost let it all slip away. Änis Ben-Hatira gave the visitors the lead before 15 minutes were up, and a penalty from Adrián Ramos put them up 2-0 before the hour mark. But, with 20 minutes left to play, Hertha conceded a penalty of their own, duly converted by Sejad Salihovic. Ten minutes later, the Bosnian had a second, this time from a free kick. But Adrián Ramos had the last laugh, getting another just a few minutes later. Hertha, in seventh, are still trying to recover a European position, while Hoffenheim’s struggling home form sees them fall to 13th.

Schalke 3-1 Werder Bremen
Schalke likely would’ve appreciated it had Wolfsburg and Gladbach not pulled off their come from behind wins — then Schalke could’ve bounced up to a Champions League place. Not that they seem to be enjoying their Champions League experience, but still, it’s the principle of the thing. Werder Bremen actually had the lead early on, thanks to a goal from Felix Kroos, but a second half brace from Kevin-Prince Boateng and an insurance goal from Jefferson Farfán saw Schalke trot out the winners.

Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 Nurnberg
As was par for the course on this Bundesliga Saturday, the visiting side took an early lead with a goal from Josip Drmic. But Gladback staged a late comeback. Juan Arango got the first, and a few minutes later, Niklas Stark thought he’d help out, planting the ball in the back of his own net. The Foals finished it off with a sweet shot from Patrick Herrmann. Gladbach stay fourth, but Nurnberg drop to the bottom. It would probably help if, at some point soon, Nurnberg could find their first win of the season.

Sunday…still to come, of course

Mainz vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
Germany sure loves to put the most unappealing matchups on Sundays. Do no Germans pay attention to the football after Saturday afternoon? There’s little to recommend this lower mid-table clash, except the love of Fußball of course.

Freiburg vs. Stuttgart
A win on Sunday could pull Freiburg out of the danger zone, albiet barely. At least matches between these two sides tend to see a few balls land in the back of the net.

PHOTOS: New Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 unveiled

New Chelsea away kit
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The new Chelsea away kit for 2020-21 has been unveiled and the Blues will wear it for the first time against Crystal Palace on Tuesday (start time, 1pm ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Chelsea have gone back to a sky blue away jersey and the design has a herringbone knit throughout, which is the same as their new home jersey for the 2020-21 season which debuted last week.

The west London club state that this away kit “adds an injection of millennial swagger – perfect for the confident, emerging talents lighting up Stamford Bridge under head coach Frank Lampard.”

When it comes to a a new Chelsea kit, or any new kit for that matter, there are always plenty of amateur fashion designers out there. But the response to this new away jersey has been largely positive.

They also have a new shirt sponsor in telecommunications company “Three UK” and you can’t really miss their sponsorship logo on the front of the shirt.

Check out the photos below to see what Christian Pulisic and Co. will be wearing in the Premier League next season, and Frank Lampard hopes it will be worn in the Champions League too as the Blues continue to push to seal a top four finish in his debut season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

This new Chelsea kit, like most kits, will divide opinion.

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks

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EPL betting odds for the Premier League have been released but we know the bookies don’t always get it right.

Here are the latest Prince-Wright’s Premier League score predictions as the Premier League return has the EPL betting odds all over the place.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule

The Premier League score predictions below include the 10 midweek games of Matchweek 34 Here we go.

If you, like me, love to dissect all the games and predict what the score will be and which team will win, I encourage you to get involved in the comments section below. Let’s have a bit of fun with these Premier League games.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Okay, so I’ve consulted my crystal ball and here’s how we see things panning out. Listen carefully, because this is very specific.

While you can download the NBC Sports Predictor app (below) and play the Premier League Pick ‘Em game yourself to predict the scores and win the prizes.

DOWNLOAD NBC SPORTS PREDICTOR

With the first section labelled “basically, free money” for the picks I think are dead certs. The section labelled “don’t touch this” means if you’re betting I advise you to stay clear, while the “so you’re telling me there’s a chance” section are the long shots. If it is better odds you are after, those are the picks to go for.

Check out our Premier League score predictions below.


BASICALLY, FREE MONEY

Man City 3-1 Newcastle – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM]

Crystal Palace 1-3 Chelsea – (Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Brighton 1-3 Liverpool – (Wednesday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Aston Villa 0-3 Man United – (Thursday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM


DON’T TOUCH THIS…

Arsenal 2-1 Leicester – (Tuesday, 3:15 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

Bournemouth 1-2 Tottenham – (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET, NBCSN) – [STREAM

West Ham 1-1 Burnley – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM

Everton 2-2 Southampton – (Thursday, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM


“SO YOU’RE TELLING ME THERE’S A CHANCE…”

Watford 1-1 Norwich – (Tuesday, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM]

Sheffield United 2-1 Wolves – (Wednesday, 1 p.m. ET, Gold/Peacock) – [STREAM]

Bartomeu vows Messi will finish career at Barcelona

Messi staying with Barcelona
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Lionel Messi will finish his career at Barcelona, says embattled president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

The exit clause in Messi’s latest Barcelona contract expired on June 1, putting a temporary end to worries that the world’s top player would leave a messy Barcelona season.

Messi, 33, is still near the top of his powers. He has 22 goals and 19 assists in 29 La Liga appearances this season, adding five goals and four assists in nine cup games.

[ MORE: Premier League standings ]

“(Messi) will end his working and footballing life at Barcelona”, said Bartomeu in a Monday radio interview. “We are negotiating with many players but Messi has explained to us he wants to stay. And so we’re going to enjoy him for much longer.”

Only four players in Europe’s top five leagues have scored more league goals than Messi and none of those players has more than eight assists. Messi’s 19 La Liga assists are two behind Thomas Muller in that same group.

It had been reported since November that Messi would not exercise his option to leave the club, but there were numerous reasons to think he might rethink things given problems at Barcelona.

There has been chaos in the board room and players including Messi were angry to be thrown under the proverbial bus when Ernesto Valverde was fired early this year.

Notably, he called Barcelona “home” but noted “weird things happening” at the Camp Nou. Fortunately, the club announced that an independent inspector cleared Barca’s hierarchy of wrongdoing after allegations that a third-party company contracted to the club tried to smear current and former club legends on social media.

Bartomeu needs Messi to stay as the club waits for Frenkie de Jong and Ansu Fati to come into the peaks of their powers. If the Argentine leaves Barca, who looks destined to finish second to Real Madrid despite leading the table for most of the year, the pressure on the president will reach an even higher level.

The president has overseen a mostly successful time at Barca during his tenure, winning four domestic titles and the 2014-15 Champions League.

FC Dallas withdrawn from MLS is Back tourney; Vela to sit out

FC Dallas withdraws from MLS is Back
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Carlos Vela’s decision to sit out the MLS is Back tournament has been one-upped by reports that MLS has pulled an entire team out of the fray in Florida.

Vela, considered by many to be the league’s top player, is opting out of representing LAFC and choosing to spend time with his pregnant wife and children.

The Mexican star, 31, said he would love to play but the coronavirus pandemic means missing out is in “the best interest of the health of my family to stay home and be with my wife during what is a risky pregnancy.”

[ MORE: Mourinho, Lloris react to Son spat ]

LAFC released a statement supporting Vela’s “difficult decision,” which will not help the West’s top side in its bid to outlast the Galaxy, Houston, and Portland in Group F, should the tournament go forward as planned.

Meanwhile, FC Dallas’ bad month has gotten much worse. Six players reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 last week and reports grew to include 10 players and one coach.

The side’s opening match against Vancouver was postponed on Saturday. Now FC Dallas says it is supporting an MLS decision to take the team out of the tournament. FC Dallas says it will take every precaution to make sure its return to Texas “minimizes risk of exposure to all parties involved.”

Dallas was drawn into Group B with Seattle, Vancouver, and San Jose. Two of the teams were set to advance to the knockout rounds.

Here is MLS’ statement on FC Dallas’ withdrawal:

“Major League Soccer announced today that FC Dallas have been withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament due to 10 players and one member of the technical staff confirmed positive for COVID-19. Each of these positive tests either occurred upon the club’s arrival or within a few days of arrival. The decision was made in the best interest of the health of all players and staff participating in the tournament, and in line with protocols created in conjunction with local and national health authorities and infectious disease experts.
“’Given the impact of the number of positive tests on the club’s ability to train and play competitive matches, we have made the decision to withdraw FC Dallas from the MLS is Back Tournament,’ said MLS Commissioner Don Garber. ‘The health of everyone involved in our return to play has always been our top priority, and we will continue to make decisions consistent with that priority.’
Of the 557 players currently in Orlando, Fla. 13 total players have been confirmed positive for COVID-19, 10 of those being FC Dallas players and the remaining three from two other clubs.”