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BUNDESLIGA 2017-18: Guide to the two promoted teams

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BERLIN (AP) A look at Stuttgart and Hannover as the promoted teams prepare for the opening weekend of the Bundesliga.

[ MORE: Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool ]

STUTTGART

Stuttgart, which won the Bundesliga in 2007, was relegated in 2016 but bounced straight back by winning the second division last season.

The club has made a number of signings in an attempt to stay in the top flight this time: former Germany defenders Holger Badstuber and Dennis Aogo; Brazilian defender Ailton; forwards Chadrac Akolo and Anastasios Donis; and Germany backup goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.

Arguably more significant, however, was Stuttgart’s luring of Michael Reschke from Bayern Munich to be its sporting director. The 59-year-old Reschke has a good reputation for scouting and player development after three years at Bayern and 10 at Bayer Leverkusen. His services will be appreciated at a club that has long nurtured raw talent. Seven members of Germany’s Confederations Cup-winning squad began their careers at Stuttgart, including Timo Werner, Joshua Kimmich and Mario Gomez.

Simon Terodde, the team’s top goalscorer last season, knows his side faces a difficult task to ensure survival this year.

“In the second division we were always the favorites, had a lot of ball-possession,” Terodde said. “That will change now in the Bundesliga when you’re playing against the big teams like Schalke, Bayern, Dortmund. That’s the way it is. But still, we’re prepared.”


HANNOVER

Hannover also returned at the first attempt, as the runner-up in the second division.

But the side’s summer rebuilding has been overshadowed by club president’s Martin Kind’s takeover of voting rights. Kind has been an outspoken critic of the Bundesliga’s 50-plus-1 regulation, which limits the influence of external backers, and he was able to increase his stake to a majority thanks to an exemption as he has backed the club for 20 years.

[ MORE:  Klopp reacts to Champions League win ]

The regulation prohibits stakeholders from having more than 49 percent of a club, with the rest remaining in club members’ hands to prevent takeovers. There are exceptions – Wolfsburg, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and now, Hannover.

The move has been opposed by many club supporters and Kind has been the subject of derogatory chants at friendly games. Hannover’s friendly at Premier League side Burnley was called off at halftime due to trouble from the visiting fans.

The club has been relatively quiet on the transfer front, bringing in defenders Julian Korb and Matthias Ostrzolek from Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hamburger SV, respectively, as well as midfielder Pirmin Schwegler from Hoffenheim.

Staying in the Bundesliga is the initial priority, though Kind wants the club to play internationally.

Horst Heldt was appointed as sporting director last March, and he brought in Andre Breitenreiter as coach. The two had worked together at Schalke.

“We need three years to establish ourselves back in the Bundesliga, and then we will look forwards,” Kind said. “I can’t say yet whether that will be Europe.”

More AP German soccer: http://www.apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga

Pulisic wins, converts penalty against Liverpool (fan video)

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USMNT star and Borussia Dortmund teenage winger Christian Pulisic won a penalty kick off James Milner, then insisted on taking the spot kick in front of his home crowd.

[ MORE: Mina to Everton? ]

Pulisic, 19, took the ball off Mario Gotze and finished his chance clinically to equalize against Liverpool, his second won penalty of the American tour.

Pulisic began the game on the bench after starting in Chicago against Manchester City, and Liverpool had gone ahead early when Virgil Van Dijk took advantage of poorly set up BVB zonal marking.

But Pulisic cut past Milner and was tripped by the veteran before clattering into Ragnar Klavan and earning the PK.

Everton target Mina wants to stay at Barca, but also to play

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Goal.com says Yerry Mina could be leaving the Camp Nou after just one season for meaningful playing time at Goodison Park.

Mina’s agent says the center back would still like to feature at Barca following his strong World Cup with Colombia, but that Everton and Zenit Saint-Petersburg are interested in the $20 million man.

[ MORE: El Tri’s Reyes to Newcastle? ]

He was WhoScored’s second-best player in the entire World Cup tournament, going 270 minutes for Los Cafeteros. Mina averaged seven clearances a match, with 1.3 tackles and an interception per contest. Here’s Mina’s agent, from The Liverpool Echo:

“Everton is a club that insists on the player, who has called us directly. There are other teams like Zenit, but we hope Barcelona will take the initiative. He wants to play and do it in Barcelona. For Yerry Mina it would be a failure not to play. He just wants to play.”

The 23-year-old played just six times for Barcelona last season, and would join Michael Keane and Mason Holgate as younger center backs in Everton’s corps (Ashley Williams and Phil Jagielka are well into the careers).

Rumor roundup: Interest in Martial; Mexican to Newcastle?

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Sometimes a transfer rumor report talks itself out of probability by the time it reaches completion.

Sky Sports is reporting that Manchester United attacker Anthony Martial has interest from the likes of Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund.

[ MORE: Klopp on Pulisic ]

But United doesn’t have interest in selling Martial and may pick up an option in his contract to extend him through the 2019-2020 season.

And the report says Chelsea has not made an offer — hard to believe United would sell inside the Premier League anyway — while Bayern thinks the price tag is too high. And if Bayern feels that way, than BVB is gonna pass, too.

Still, something to put on your radar.


Swansea City center back Federico Fernandez saw his side relegated last season and may not favor a campaign in the Championship.

The Chronicle says he could move to Newcastle on loan despite a transfer tag of less than $8 million.

Fernandez, however, did not name names outside of Krasnodar:

“The club (Krasnodar) are very interested in me and we will have to see what happens with the window. Of course I have a contract with Swansea and that’s why I’m here and working hard. But if they want me to come then of course I want to play at the highest level.”

The Magpies could land a defender from a World Cup participant, though, as Porto’s Diego Reyes may prefer a move to Newcastle (Turkish link) over interest from Fenerbahce and West Ham United.

The 55-times capped Mexican center back has played on the right as well, though he missed the tournament with a hamstring injury.

Report: Orlando’s Justin Meram could be traded back to Columbus

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A former Columbus Crew midfielder could be on his way back to the Eastern Conference side.

[ MORE: Whitecaps teen Davies on brink of Bayern move ]

Several reports have suggested that Orlando City’s Justin Meram could be on his way back to Columbus, as the Lions look to trade the midfielder back to the club that drafted the 29-year-old.

The veteran attacker joined the Lions back in January in a trade after spending seven seasons with the Crew.

Reliable Twitter account MLS Transfers first reported the story on Sunday, also naming the Portland Timbers, Vancouver Whitecaps and FC Cincinnati as potential landing spots for Meram.

Meram was traded to Orlando back in January after requesting a move away from Columbus due to ongoing talks of the club being relocated out of Ohio.

The Iraq international has struggled in his first season with Orlando, scoring just one goal in 17 appearances for the club — who currently sit in ninth place and six points outside of the Eastern Conference playoffs.