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Three key battles: Tottenham vs. Dortmund

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Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday in one of the most intriguing games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

 [ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup

Spurs and Dortmund are on an equal footing on many levels with both Mauricio Pochettino and Peter Bosz leading young, hungry squads to challenge for domestic titles and have hopes of making a deep UCL run with their finely-tuned, high-pressing styles the envy of others across Europe.

Two golden-boot winners will be on show at Wembley with Harry Kane leading Spurs’ charge from the front and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main man for Dortmund, but a whole host of other key battles will take place between the Premier League and Bundesliga teams.

Below is a closer look at the three key battles which will determine the outcome of this game.


Harry Kane vs. Neven Subotic

It is September so Kane is in full flow having scored twice against Everton last time out and that is a bad news for a Dortmund defense who are missing Marcel Schmelzer, Marc Bartra and potentially Neven Subotic. Kane and Co. will fancy their chances of pressing high on Dortmund’s defense early on and the likes of Sokratis and Omer Toprak may struggle to cope with the mobility of Spurs’ main forward. We all know that Kane is capable of scoring any type of goal and Dortmund’s defense will have to be wary of him dropping deep, drifting wide and then cutting inside.

Ben Davies vs. Christian Pulisic

Ah, Das American. Pulisic, still just 18 years old, is likely to have a key role in this game and he will likely start on the right of Dortmund’s attack. That means he will be up against second-choice left back (Danny Rose remains out with a knee injury) Ben Davies with Spurs expected to play in a 3-4-3 formation. Pulisic, as all USMNT fans know, loves to pick up the ball wide and drift inside and you just feel that with constant links to a move to the Premier League, this is a chance for him to prove his quality against PL opponents. Davies is solid and steady and will get forward but defends first. The Welsh international will provide a stern test for Pulisic but the American playmaker will see this as a battle he can easily win.

Toby Alderweireld vs. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

On his day there a few better center backs in Europe than Alderweireld. The same can be said about Aubameyang when it comes to strikers. This should be one heck of a battle with both imposing physically and Aubameyang able to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Alderweireld is more than comfortable following a forward out of the back line and if he wins the ball often enough the ball-playing Belgian can stride into midfield and start attacks. Aubameyang has a knack of being in the right place at the right time but Alderweireld reads the game superbly and along with Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, they will deny space for Aubameyang to turn and link up with Dortmund’s playmakers.

Croatian media: Forward Kalinic refused WCup medal

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) Croatian media say that forward Nikola Kalinic has not accepted the silver medal his team won at the World Cup in Russia because he was sent home early in the competition.

[ MORE: Everton make massive Richarlison bid and more transfer talk ]

Kalinic has reportedly said “thank you but I did not play in Russia.”

Coach Zlatko Dalic sent Kalinic home following the team’s 2-0 victory over Nigeria in their opening match.

Dalic said he wanted to use Kalinic as a substitute in the second half but the AC Milan forward, who was already warming up, told him he was not able to play because of a back problem.

Dalic said Kalinic did the same in a World Cup warmup against Brazil and during training.

Croatia lost 4-2 to France in the final.

Marseille signs Caleta-Car, Fonte joins Lille

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MARSEILLE, France (AP) Croatia defender Duje Caleta-Car has joined Marseille from Red Bull Salzburg, becoming the first offseason signing for the nine-time French champion.

Caleta-Car played a group game at the World Cup with Croatia, which lost 4-2 against France in the final last week.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Son to contract extension ]

He won four Austrian league titles and three national cups with Salzburg.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed but L’Equipe newspaper reported that Marseille agreed to a fee of 19 million euros for the 21-year-old player, who was also targeted by Spanish club Sevilla.

“He is a very good central defender, for now and for the future,” Marseille sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said. “He is a clever player, who understands football. His very physical skills make him very good in the air and has good passing abilities.”

Marseille finished fourth in the French league last season and lost 3-0 against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final, missing out on a Champions League berth.

FONTE JOINS LILLE

Portugal defender Jose Fonte is set to continue his much-traveled career in the north of France after agreeing to a two-year deal with Lille.

The 34-year-old Fonte started all four games at the World Cup in Russia as Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16.

Two years ago, he was a member of the squad which won the European championship in France.

Lille said in a statement Fonte will sign “in the coming days” following medical tests.

The former Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Ham center back played only a few matches with Chinese club Dalian Yifang this year before terminating his contract.

He is the second international to join Lille this summer after former France forward Loic Remy.

“I’m very proud to join Lille, which is a great French club,” Fonte said. “It’s a new challenge for me, hopefully it will be successful.”

Naby Keita emulated Gerrard growing up, and will now take on his role

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Naby Keita represents another new face in the next generation Liverpool regime, and he’s taking a page out of Anfield’s past in his approach at the Premier League club.

[ MORE: Neymar says he’s staying at PSG despite rumors “invented by the press” ]

When the 23-year-old finally completed his long-awaited move to the Reds in 2018, comparisons to N'Golo Kante quickly arose, a strong compliment for many.

However, for everything that Kante does well, it may actually be unfair to compare Keita to the now-World Cup winner with France.

Keita’s tireless ability to track up and down the pitch, complimented by his incredible skill on the ball and pace make him the ideal box-to-box midfielder, something his new club has been lacking for several years.

“My first mind-set is to defend well and not concede,” Keita told the Telegraph. “As a midfielder, when you have sealed things up at the back, my job is to provide the ammunition for the strikers and forwards, to create opportunities. Also, if I get a chance that comes my way, I want to take it and score. But I am a team player. I think about the team and the group always.”

That player is one Steven Gerrard.

And for Keita, the player that he once emulated as a child has now influenced him into the young star that drove manager Jurgen Klopp towards bringing him in to Anfield.

“When I came here that day I didn’t know Steven would be at Melwood,” says Keita. “It was a surprise to me. It was exciting. He said, ‘Everyone will be here for you, we’re all going to help you develop’.

“I had watched Steven Gerrard growing up as a kid and admired him so that was a special day.

“We used to play in the streets wearing a Liverpool shirt. My dad had a love of Liverpool back then when I was 11 or 12 years old.

“I wanted to be like him. It couldn’t be anyone else. He was always the boss of the team.”

Las Vegas Lights keen on bringing Usain Bolt to USL

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It wouldn’t be the first time a star athlete has made the move to the United Soccer League — the second tier in the U.S. Soccer professional pyramid — however, the magnitude of the deal would transcend soccer.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Son to contract extension ]

Although reported interest from Australia, Turkey and Hungary could derail a move, former Jamaican track star Usain Bolt is being courted by USL side Las Vegas Lights FC, who are currently in their first season in the league.

“Of course we have an interest in Usain Bolt. Why wouldn’t we?” said Las Vegas owner and CEO Brett Lashbrook.

“He’s the world’s fastest guy and he’s trained at some of the best clubs in the world. To come play Division 2 soccer in the U.S. actually makes all the sense in the world. This guy is an absolute specimen of an athlete and we think he could absolutely succeed at the USL level.”

While the possibility of having Bolt play alongside Freddy Adu next to the Vegas Strip is an enticing one, the Jamaican’s salary demands are likely far too much for a USL side to take on.

Lights FC currently sit 13th in the USL Western Conference, eight point outside of a playoff spot.

Bolt is an eight-time Olympic gold medalist, having competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.