Bundesliga Report: Bayer, Dortmund both fall short

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Bayern Munich face off against Raja Casablanca on Saturday night to determine which club is the best in the world. But the German side, despite having recently lost to Manchester City, have little need to prove their worth. After both Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen lost in Round 17, should Bayern win their next match, they’ll be 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table.

Friday

Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1 Augsburg
The hosts spent the first 30 minutes simply trying to close down Augsburg, but after Raul Bobadilla opened the scoring, Frankfurt wasted hardly any time getting back into the match. Jan Rosenthal equalized ten minutes later, grabbing a much needed point for his side, who are just barely staying above the relegation zone.

Saturday

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Hertha Berlin
On paper, this match should’ve been simple for one of Germany’s top three sides. Instead, Hertha Berlin capitalized on Dortmund’s continuing defensive woes. The hosts took first blood with a goal from Marco Reus, but by the break, Hertha had put themselves ahead. Sami Allagui had a hand in both goals, setting up Adrián Ramos for the first and putting in the second himself. The win lifts Hertha back into the European positions, while Dortmund are now in danger of being overtaken by rivals Gladbach, should they win on Sunday.

Braunschweig 1-0 Hoffenheim
Yes, Braunschweig, who started the weekend dead last, managed to hold off Hoffenheim and collect all three points, despite being down to just ten men for the final ten minutes. A penalty converted by Torsten Oehrl was all the hosts needed to claim victory.

Freiburg 2-1 Hannover
Freiburg gave themselves a much needed boost thanks to a first-half brace from Admir Mehmedi. The visitors pulled one back thanks to a last-minute header from Leonardo Bittencourt, but that wasn’t enough to stop Freiburg from putting themselves within one point of safety.

Hamburg 2-3 Mainz
Possibly the best game of the Bundesliga weekend thus far, this match was a lively back-and-forth affair. The hosts got things started with a goal from Hakan Calhanoglu, but Shinji Okazaki had his side in front early in the second half. He scored in the 47th minute and then provided the assist for Nicolai Müller’s go-ahead goal three minutes later. Both sides continued to press, but it was Hamburg that struck next, a close-range shot from Rafael van der Vaart. But when Tomás Rincón was sent off a few minutes later, HSV knew they had to settle for a draw. Things didn’t go quite as planned, however. Okazaki struck once more, in injury time, and Mainz ended up with all three points.

Werder Bremen 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Werder started the day 21 points behind the visitors, yet somehow managed to emerge victorious. A fast break, a ball from edrick Makiadi, a finish from Santiago Garcia, and all the hosts needed to do was hold on for the final fifteen minutes. They managed — taking not another shot — and by the time Bayern play their 17th match, Leverkusen could very well be 10 points off the pace.

Nurnberg – Schalke
There’s very little to say about this scoreless draw that leaves Nurnberg in dead last and Schalke still outside the European positions.

Sunday

Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Wolfsburg
A win for the Foals and they’ll move in front of rivals Dortmund — and into the Champions League places. But Wolfsburg won’t make it easy, as a Gladbach scalping will move them even with their opponents in fourth place. Both sides are on impressive runs as well: Gladbach are unbeaten in seven, Wolfsburg in eight. Why would you not want to watch this match?

Croatia smashes disheveled Argentina

AP Photo/Ricardo Mazalan
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Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Rakitic have Croatia in the knockout rounds and Argentina on the verge of World Cup disaster.

Croatia scored a pair of second half goals, one aided by a Willy Caballero howler, in a 2-0 win in Nizhny Novgorod on Thursday.

Argentina will enter its final match against Nigeria on the outskirts of the knockout rounds regardless of how Nigeria-Iceland ends on Friday.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Ivan Perisic forced a big save out of Wily Caballero for an early Croatia corner kick that came to nothing.

Messi had a chance stopped inside of 10 minutes, then started a play that Dejan Lovren blocked for a corner in the 13th.

Enzo Perez missed an open goal off a poor Croatia giveaway in the 30th minute.

There were a pair of fouls not out of place on a red card lowlight reel, one for each team, but neither resulting in a sending off.

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Croatia took the lead through Caballero’s gaffe and Rebic’s smash in the 54th.

Argentina nearly answered moments later. After a mazy Messi dribble, Argentina regained possession in the 64th minute, spearheaded by a Gonzalo Higuain run that led to a corner.

Croatia came close to making it 2-0, as Mario Mandzukic couldn’t turn a flick on frame and instead saw it glide into the outside of the goal.

Then Modric put the match to bed as the clock hit 80, an absolute beauty. Another huge defensive mistake allowed Mateo Kovacic to cue up Rakitic for the third.

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WATCH: Caballero blunder punished as Rebic rip puts Argentina on ropes

AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
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Willy Caballero has made one of the bigger blunders in recent World Cup history.

His Argentina side needs at least a point from Thursday’s match-up with Croatia, and the match remained scoreless into halftime.

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But 10 minutes after the break, Caballero flubbed a clearance in a big way.

The Argentina goalkeeper then could only watch as Ante Rebic kept his composure to blast a side volley into the goal.

It was a fine finish, to be sure, but not possible without such a terrible gaffe.

Transfer rumor roundup: Chelsea in for Pjanic; Lozano to Juventus?

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Pro Soccer Talk examines some of Thursday’s top transfer stories, including a Premier League giant looking to add to its midfield.

[ MORE: Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Luis Suarez ]


Chelsea could be set to join Barcelona in the race for Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic, according to the Daily Mail.

The Blues and new manager Maurizio Sarri are said to be open to looking to Serie A to solve some of the team’s troubled areas, including in the center of the park to join France international N'Golo Kante.

Sarri is already said to be keen on signing Napoli star Dries Mertens, whom he has coached for several years at the Stadio San Paolo


Meanwhile, Juve has interest in a World Cup star, with Mexico’s Hirving Lozano attracting significant looks from around the world.

Lozano scored for El Tri in their 1-0 victory over Germany to open their 2018 World Cup campaign, and has become an instant star in the Dutch Eredivisie with PSV Eindhoven.

PSV would reportedly be willing to complete a deal if the Serie A champions shell out over $40 million.


Sticking with Juve, Emre Can‘s move to the Turin side appears to be close to finalization.

Can is set to have a medical in Italy on Thursday, as the 24-year-old anticipates completing a five-year contract with the Serie A giants.


Finally, West Ham United is looking to add to its attacking options next season, and the club could be nearing a record move.

Lazio winger Felipe Anderson is reportedly set to come to the London Stadium in 2018/19 as the Hammers prepare a $46 million deal.

Anderson tallied four goals in 21 Serie A matches last season for the Biancocelesti.

RB Leipzig names Julian Nagelsmann future manager

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Julian Nagelsmann won’t take over at his new club until the 2019/20 season, but Red Bull Leipzig has put a lot of confidence in one of the youngest managers in global football.

[ MORE: Ronaldo’s tally gives Portugal win over Morocco ]

On Thursday, the Bundesliga side announced the appointment of the Hoffenheim coach, who will continue in his current capacity for the upcoming 2018/19 German campaign.

Nagelsmann signs on with Leipzig until the conclusion of the 2022/23 season.

The 30-year-old has spent two seasons managing Hoffenheim, guiding the club to back-to-back top-four finishes in the Bundesliga.

Leipzig is currently without a manager ahead of the next season, so it remains unclear who will take over until Nagelsmann assumes his role in 2019.