Bundesliga Roundup: Bayern fall, twice in a row

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It took more than three years, but it’s finally happened: Bayern Munich have lost back-to-back Bundesliga games for the first time since March 2011. Of course, the German giants have already wrapped up the title and are focused on winning the Champions League once more, but the 3-0 victory was still quite a coop for Dortmund.

Little changed in the bottom half of the table, with Hamburg, Nurnberg and Braunschweig still occupying the last three slots, and Stuttgart sitting just above.

Friday Results

Schalke 2-0 Eintracht Frankfurt
Schalke are looking more and more certain of an automatic Champions League place next season, holding an eight point lead in third place with six games left to go. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar failed to score again, missing a penalty in the 66th minute, but both Max Meyer and Jefferson Farfán stepped up, the latter grabbing a late goal after coming on to replace Julian Draxler in the 86th minute.

Saturday Results

Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Stuttgart
Gladbach fought back to claim a draw, keeping the Foals within a point of fourth place and what’s certain to be a hard-earned Champions League spot. Daniel Didavi opened the scoring with a goal in the 12th minute, and it looked as though Stuttgart were set to hold on for a win. But Juan Arango got on the end of a cross from Max Kruse to equalize in the 89th minute. That leaves Stuttgart in the thick of the relegation battle, one point clear of the danger spots.

Freiburg 2-0 Braunschweig
Last week’s surprise 3-0 victory over rivals Hannover is now but a distant memory, with bottom-side Braunschweig losing once more and remaining three points clear of safety. The visitors even graciously gifted Freiburg the opener, with Damir Vrančić putting the ball into the back of his own net, and Julian Schuster added a second shortly after the restart. With just one loss in their last six, Freiburg are now looking like they just might stay up.

Hannover 2-1 Hamburg
After beating Leverkusen last weekend, Hamburg are once again back in the danger zone. Hannover’s Lars Stindl gave the hosts the lead before ten minutes were up, but Hakan Calhanoglu found an equalizer just after the second half began. It looked as though Hamburg might manage a point, but a tap-in from Didier Ya Konan secured the win for Hannover.

Mainz 3-0 Werder Bremen
It was all too easy for Mainz, who lost to Frankfurt last weekend, to overcome Werder this week. Another own goal, from Nils Petersen, opened the scoring, with Christoph Moritz and Yunus Malli adding two more before the clock had reached forty minutes. The result keeps Mainz, currently seventh, in the hunt for a Europa League spot, but they’ll be four points out if Leverkusen beat Hertha on Sunday.

Wolfsburg 4-1 Nurnberg
Their emphatic victory over Nurnberg lifted Wolfsburg into fourth, although they’ll remain wary of Gladbach and Leverkusen sneaking in – particularly with a potentially tiring Cup game against Dortmund midweek. Markus Feulner opened the scoring for the visitors, but goals from Ivica Olić and Ivan Perišić put Wolfsburg up 2-1 at the break. Junior Malanda put in the hosts’ third and Perišić  grabbed a second to make it 4-1. Nurnberg remain second from bottom, having lost three in a row and with Leverkusen, then Mainz up next.

Bayern Munich 0-3 Borussia Dortmund
A surprise win at the Allianz Arena keeps Dortmund in second, three points above Schalke. Marco Reus proved instrumental in the victory, setting up Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the first goal and scoring the second himself. Jonas Hofmann got the third, before the hour mark. The match ended with Bayern’s Rafinha being shown a straight red for fighting. Oh, and if you’re worried about Manuel Neuer being subbed off at halftime, fret not – it was just a precautionary move to keep the goalkeeper healthy.

Sunday Fixtures

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin
The hosts have a chance to get themselves back into the Champions League spots, but you have to wonder – do they really want to reach such dizzying heights? In the twelve games played since the winter break, Leverkusen – who were second in January – have won just three times. Hertha, too, have fallen in the second half. They’ve won just twice and slid into tenth, but their excellent start to the season means they’ll spend another year in the top division.

Hoffenheim vs. Augsburg
The week finishes with a mid-table clash, so you might be tempted to tune it out. But Hoffeheim absolutely love high-scoring thrillers, routinely either netting four or allowing four. They have 64 goals scored, as many as Dortmund, but 63 conceded, which is the most in the Bundesliga. How can you not want to watch?

Cruzeiro relegated from Brazilian top flight for first time

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Brazilian side Cruzeiro was relegated from the top flight for the first time in the club’s 98-year history following a 2-0 defeat to Palmeiras on the final day of the season.

Cruzeiro required victory and a loss by Ceara at Botafogo to stay safely in the Brazilian Serie A, but neither came to pass.

Palmeiras midfielder Ze Rafael scored in the 58th minute to send the visitors on their way, with fellow midfielder Dudu finished things off in the 84th minute. Referees ushered the players off the field immediately after the conclusion of the match as Cruzeiro fans rioted in the Mineirao stadium, ripping out seats, setting off smoke bombs, and clashing with police.

Cruzeiro finished 17th in the 20-team table, three points back of Ceara in 16th. In the Brazilian top flight, the bottom four teams are relegated. CSA, Chapecoense, and Avai were also relegated. Cruzeiro had won the Brazilian Serie A as recently as 2013 and 2014, winning four titles in its history. They also have six Copa do Brasil titles, most recently winning the league cup in 2017 and 2018.

Flamengo ran away with the championship, finishing on 90 points, 16 points clear of second-placed Santos and third-placed Palmeiras who both finished level on 74 points. Palmeiras had challenged for the title, but fell off at the end of the season with a five-match winless run through November.

Premier League Preview: West Ham United v. Arsenal

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Two struggling London sides meet Monday when West Ham United hosts Arsenal (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

The sides might’ve expected they’d be within close proximity at this point on the fixture list, but two wildly disappointing seasons means the three points between the Gunners and Irons comes with the former in 11th and the latter 16th.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

It’s been nine matches since Arsenal beat someone, 11 since it happened in the Premier League. West Ham hasn’t been much better, winning once in its last 10.

Freddie Ljungberg has yet to win as Arsenal interim boss, while West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini could see his current stint in London end without more results like the Nov. 30 win at Chelsea.

Monday versus Arsenal would qualify.


Injuries/suspensions

West Ham United: OUT —  Jack Wilshere, Lukasz Fabianski, Manuel Lanzini, Winston Reid. QUESTIONABLE — Michail Antonio.

Arsenal: OUT — Dani Ceballos. QUESTIONABLE — Rob Holding.


Probable lineups

West Ham United: Martin; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Balbuena, Fredericks; Rice, Noble, Yarmolenko, Anderson, Snodgrass, Haller.

Arsenal: Leno; Kolasinac, Sokratis, Luiz, Bellerin, Xhaka, Torreira, Ozil, Pepe, Aubameyang, Lacazette.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s Antonio sees an opportunity: “The only three teams that are really performing are Liverpool, Leicester and Man City. Everyone else is getting beaten, and it means we’ve had a missed opportunity so far this season. We started the season off brightly, the best start we’ve had for four years, but then we’ve had a slump. Everyone’s having a slump and this is our slump. Now it’s time for us to start turning up. We’ve been in this situation before and we know how to dig in and pull ourselves up again.”

Arsenal’s Ljungberg on setting targets: “I don’t think we should stop talking about the top four, but for us it’s about concentrating on what we’re doing here now and not look up, down, sideways. We just need to work on our own game and our own confidence.”


Prediction

Really, you wouldn’t want to predict anything from these sides right now besides goals. We’ll give an edge in desperation to the hosts and a 2-2 draw.

La Liga: Sevilla held at Osasuna, Getafe maintains UCL fight

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Sevilla was held to a 1-1 draw at 10-man Osasuna on Sunday, giving both Real Madrid and Barcelona space at the top of the La Liga table.

Munir El Haddadi put the visitors 1-0 up just 11 minutes in, but Ezequiel Avila struck just before halftime to share the points. Sevilla was held to just two total shots through the opening 45 minutes, and despite Osasuna defender Oier Olazabal being shown a second yellow card with 29 minutes to go, Sevilla still managed just 11 total efforts through the 90 minutes, with four on target.

Getafe continued its battle for a top four spot as they won 1-0 on the road at Eibar. Angel Rodriguez bagged his eighth goal of the season to secure the win, cropping up in the 67th minute to finally put Getafe through. They had been turning the screw for some time, forcing Marko Dmitrovic into a pair of big saves just before the opener which came from an absurdly tight angle after Angel had rounded the goalkeeper. The win leaves them fourth, level with Real Sociedad on 27 points.

They were allowed to close the gap after Real Sociedad was held scoreless in a 0-0 draw at 14th placed Real Valladolid. The visitors put just two of their 14 shots on net, and dropped to fifth thanks to Getafe holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

Athletic Club also fell back in the race for a top four spot, dropping a 3-2 decision on the road at Real Betis. Joaquin scored a first-half hat-trick, with all three goals coming in the opening 20 minutes to give him five in his last three games. Inaki Williams brought Athletic Bilbao one back before halftime from the spot, and Yuri Berchiche made things interesting with a minute to go, but that was all they could muster as the visitors fell to sixth on 26 points, above Atletico Madrid on goal differential with the two yet to play head-to-head.

Celta Vigo made it interesting as Iago Aspas scored a man-down goal, but Leganes held on for a 3-2 win over the 10-man visitors. Oscar Rodriguez had a first-half brace to help the hosts to a 3-0 lead, but Nestor Araujo and Aspas helped Celta Vigo make things interesting. Still, a 71st minute second yellow card for halftime substitute Gabriel Fernandez hampered the visitors in their efforts for a comeback, leaving Celta Vigo in the relegation zone, a point back of safety, with Leganes is four points behind them in 19th.

Gerrard reacts to Rangers’ Old Firm heartbreak in final

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Steven Gerrard lined his Rangers side up for success, but fate was cruel to the Liverpool legend.

Rangers lost the League Cup Final to their Old Firm rivals on Sunday despite out-shooting the Bhoys by a 16-5 margin, winning a penalty, and playing almost a half-hour up a man.

[ RECAP: Rangers 0-1 Celtic ]

“To a man we were very good … by much the better side,” Gerrard said. “But unfortunately that’s not what gets you a trophy.”

But Celtic goalkeeper Fraser Forster stopped Alfredo Morelos’ penalty, three minutes after goal scorer Christopher Jullien was offside on the lone goal of the game.

Scotland doesn’t yet use VAR, and Gerrard doesn’t love VAR but he likes it more than he likes Scottish officials.

“There were three Celtic players standing in offside positions but unfortunately we play in a country where there is no VAR,” he said, via the BBC. “I’d be a liar if I said I was 100% in favour of it, but the one thing I do know is that officials up here need support.”

Now he has the task of getting his men to rebound ahead of its biggest non-derby in ages, as Rangers need at least a draw against Young Boys at home on Thursday to advance to the Europa League knockout rounds

“It’s a bit raw right now… It’s up to me to pick the players up. One thing I will say is I’ll stay with these players on the evidence of today because they gave me absolutely everything. We might have to suffer a bit short-term. I need to pick them up a bit physically and mentally for Thursday which is huge but our day will come on the evidence of today.”

Gerrard has done a very good job with Rangers, who are two points back of Celtic in a two-horse race for the Scottish top flight title. Celtic has won eight-straight titles to improve their total to 50, four less than the Rangers.