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England’s evolution: How the Three Lions squad has changed from Brazil to Russia

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Even in the smoldering wreck that was England’s 2014 World Cup performance in Brazil, there was a bright light at the end of the tunnel.

Several of the youngsters included in the World Cup squad were beginning to come into their own, and in the Premier League and select matches for the England National Team, showed flashes of their world class talent. This includes Raheem Sterling, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Jordan Henderson, all who have developed into important Premier League players for their clubs.

But there were a number of youngsters, and players in their prime, that many would have presumed would be even better four years from then, and would be players England fans could count on at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Ross Barkley. Luke Shaw. Daniel Sturridge. Jack Wilshere. Phil Jones. Chris Smalling. Adam Lallana.

The septet of players, all of whom when fit can be world beaters, have failed to prove they can stay healthy consistantly for their club teams and England, save for Wilshere. But even Wilshere couldn’t stay fit for England’s last two friendly matches.

Then you have the declines of Gary Cahill, Joe Hart and Leighton Baines. Add in the international retirements of Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Glen Johnson and this summer’s England World Cup squad will have a much different look. And perhaps that’s a good thing.

After hiring a pragmatist in Roy Hodgson who ultimately saw England fall to Iceland in Euro 2016, Gareth Southgate has taken advantage of his work in the England youth ranks to give plenty of youngsters a chance, ones that weren’t ready yet for the big stage in 2014.

The Tottenham trio of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Eric Dier are all expected to start in England’s opening match against Tunisia on June 18. Add in Manchester United pair Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford, as well as Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford (and maybe even Nick Pope) and you have an evolution of young players moving up the national team ladder, as well as performing each week for their clubs. And each of those players are 25-years and under.

From England’s lineup against Italy in the Three Lions’ opener at the 2014 World Cup, it appears that just Henderson and Sterling are locked in for starting places in 2018, with Danny Welbeck potentially making the list. But after a succession of veteran-laden tournaments, perhaps a tournament in Russia (not too far from England compared to Brazil) is the best place to throw out a group of youngsters on the field in the England shirt, and see what they can do.

Expectations for England remain grounded, and for good reason considering its last two tournament performances. But with so many fresh young faces, there’s still a chance that, like their counterparts at the Under-20 and Under-17 levels, they can put a run together.

England will certainly miss out on what could have been with Barkley and Sturridge in the attack, Wilshere in midfield, Smalling and Jones along the backline and Shaw bombing down the left. But with the introduction of more young players playing at a high level, this team has the talent to compete at the World Cup, and potentially get out of their group.

Havertz makes history in Bayer win

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen recap and video highlights
Photo by RONALD WITTEK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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Kai Havertz made more Bundesliga history as Bayer Leverkusen got back in the win column with a 1-0 win at scrappy Freiburg on Friday.

Havertz became the first player in history to score 35 Bundesliga goals before the age of 21 with the match’s early second-half opener, assisted by Leon Bailey. He turns 21 on June 11.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores ]

Havertz has 11 goals and five assists in Bundesliga play this season including five goals since the end of the coronavirus pause.

Bayer pulls in third place with 56 points, one ahead of RB Leipzig and one back of Borussia Dortmund. Gladbach lurks three points back.

Freiburg may have waved goodbye to its sixth-place hopes, now four points back of Wolfsburg.

[ MORE: Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

There were hints of danger for both teams in the opening throes.

Leon Bailey missed an early chance for the visitors, and Vincenzo Grifo saw a turnover at the other end denied by a sliding challenge.

Bailey was dangerous but not clinical as Bayer controlled the first half but, like many, couldn’t find away through Freiburg’s cagey, Burnley-like compactness.

Freiburg broke the other way and had a glorious chance to steal a lead when Roland Sallai sent Lucas Holer on goal, but Lukas Hradecky cut down the angle and Holer missed wide on a chance to score in consecutive matches.

Bailey played his part well in setting up Havertz’s post-halftime opener. The Jamaican dribbled into an out of traffic before cutting a path onto Havertz’s path.

Havertz rolled the ball between the legs of Freiburg star backstop Alexander Schwolow to make it 1-0 in the 55th.

Freiburg had one more big chance to get a point, as Christian Gunter crossed for Nils Petersen but the latter couldn’t get enough on the shot to beat Hradecky.

Bundesliga preview: Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund

Paderborn v. Borussia Dortmund preview
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Last-place Paderborn is running out of time to make a run out of the drop zone, and a visit from Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t normally inspire too much.

But Sunday’s match between the two sides sees Dortmund taking the pitch for the first time since seeing its title hopes dashed in a fierce Klassiker, and Paderborn’s picked up points in all three matches since play resumed from the coronavirus pause.

Not only that, the sides drew 3-3 in November at Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, BVB firing back from a 3-0 halftime deficit thanks to goals from Jadon Sancho, Marco Reus, and Axel Witsel.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Paderborn has been playing well for a last-place side, ornery and collecting more cards than most teams in the Bundesliga.

As for Dortmund, the black and yellow side performed well enough to get a result from Bayern but lost on a Joshua Kimmich wondergoal and will likely still be lamenting what could’ve been if VAR reviewed an apparent Jerome Boateng handball in the box.

Still, there’s too much talent here, even at a desperate host. In a non-coronavirus world, the home crowd changes our opinion a little on the score line. We’re feeling a blowout, Dortmund 4-0.

Below is how to watch Borussia Dortmund v. Paderborn on TV in the USA this Saturday, while above you can follow the action live, as the three points are so valuable to both clubs but for very different reasons.

Bundesliga schedule

  • TV Channels: FS1
  • Stream LiveVia Fox Soccer
  • When: Saturday, May 30 – 12:30 p.m. ET: Bayern Munich v Fortuna Dusseldorf
  • Americans Abroad: Giovanni Reyna (Dortmund)

Remaining Premier League fixtures ahead of June 17 return

Premier League schedule
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The 2019-20 Premier League season will restart on June 17, the league confirmed Thursday, as ‘Project Restart’ readies for empty stadiums around England.

So who’s left on the schedule? The slate of 92 matches features some doozies including the Merseyside Derby (Matchday 30), the North London Derby (Matchday 35), and — of course — Liverpool’s visit to Manchester City (Matchday 32)

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Check out all the stats for the season so far, as well as the state of play for all 20 clubs’ seasons in the races for the Champions League, Europa League, and safety from relegation.

Of course, you’ll be able to watch the Premier League via NBCSports.com all summer long.

Additionally, the matches will be staged in non-traditional windows. Here are the kickoff times for midweek and weekend matches.

Matchday 28 — June 17

Aston Villa v. Sheffield United
Manchester City v. Arsenal

Matchday 30

Aston Villa v. Chelsea
Bournemouth v. Crystal Palace
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Arsenal
Everton v. Liverpool
Manchester City v. Burnley
Newcastle United v. Sheffield United
Norwich City v. Southampton
Tottenham v. Manchester United
Watford v. Leicester City
West Ham v. Wolves

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Matchday 31

Burnley v. Watford
Liverpool v. Crystal Palace
Tottenham v. West Ham
Wolves v. Bournemouth

Matchday 31 to be rescheduled due to FA Cup quarters
Chelsea v. Manchester City
Leicester City v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Manchester United v. Sheffield United
Newcastle United v. Aston Villa
Norwich City v. Everton
Southampton v. Arsenal

Matchday 32

Arsenal v. Norwich City
Aston Villa v. Wolves
Bournemouth v. Newcastle United
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Manchester United
Crystal Palace v. Burnley
Everton v. Leicester City
Manchester City v. Liverpool
Sheffield United v. Tottenham
Watford v. Southampton
West Ham v. Chelsea

Matchday 33

Burnley v. Sheffield United
Chelsea v. Watford
Leicester City v. Crystal Palace
Liverpool v. Aston Villa
Manchester United v. Bournemouth
Newcastle United v. West Ham
Norwich City v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Southampton v. Manchester City
Tottenham v. Everton
Wolves v. Arsenal

(Paul Harding/PA via AP)

Matchday 34

Arsenal v. Leicester City
Aston Villa v. Manchester United
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Liverpool
Bournemouth v. Tottenham
Crystal Palace v. Chelsea
Everton v. Southampton
Manchester City v. Newcastle United
Sheffield United v. Wolves
Watford v. Norwich City
West Ham v. Burnley

Matchday 35

Aston Villa v. Crystal Palace
Bournemouth v. Leicester City
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Manchester City
Liverpool v. Burnley
Manchester United v. Southampton
Norwich City v. West Ham
Sheffield United v. Chelsea
Tottenham v. Arsenal
Watford v. Newcastle United
Wolves v. Everton

(Photo by Visionhaus)

Matchday 36

Arsenal v. Liverpool
Burnley v. Wolves
Chelsea v. Norwich City
Crystal Palace v. Manchester United
Everton v. Aston Villa
Leicester City v. Sheffield United
Manchester City v. Bournemouth
Newcastle United v. Tottenham
Southampton v. Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v. Watford

Matchday 37

Aston Villa v. Arsenal
Bournemouth v. Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. Newcastle United
Liverpool v. Chelsea
Manchester United v. West Ham
Norwich City v. Burnley
Sheffield United v. Everton
Tottenham v. Leicester City
Watford v. Manchester City
Wolves v. Crystal Palace

Matchday 38

Arsenal v. Watford
Burnley v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Chelsea v. Wolves
Crystal Palace v. Tottenham
Everton v. Bournemouth
Leicester City v. Manchester United
Manchester City v. Norwich City
Newcastle United v. Liverpool
Southampton v. Sheffield United
West Ham v. Aston Villa

Ndidi
(Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images)

LIVE, Bundesliga: Week 29 begins with Freiburg-Bayer

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen live
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Week 29 in Germany begins with two clubs holding onto hope of berths in the Champions League and Europa League, respectively, when Bayer Leverkusen visit Freiburg at the Black Forest Stadium.

Last time out, the scrappy hosts tossed away a 2-goal lead in drawing Eintracht, while Bayer saw its red-hot form cooled off with an exclamation point in a 4-1 loss to Wolfsburg. Freiburg’s now four points out of sixth and Bayer’s outside the top four on goal difference. That said, Kai Havertz’s Bayer has weapons for days and the creativity to get through the compact, physical Freiburg formation.

[ Bundesliga: Live scores | Week 29 preview, predictions  ] 

Matchweek 29 in the Bundesliga will again see games played in empty stadiums, which is the plan for the rest of the season and beyond. If you’re new to Germany’s top-flight, here’s a guide to help you pick a club to support.

How to Watch the Bundesliga

You can check out the full schedulestandings and find out how to watch the action, while we will have you covered right here on ProSoccerTalk with analysis, reaction and more.

[ MORE: Takeaways from Week 28 of the Bundesliga ]