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Guardiola admits sanctions possible over Man City finances

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LONDON (AP) Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola raised the prospect Friday of soccer authorities punishing the Premier League champions over attempts to circumvent financial fair play rules.

City is leaving Guardiola to field questions about the leaked internal correspondence published by European media outlets, while executives decline comment. The club has not disputed the authenticity of internal messages showing how it used companies linked to the Abu Dhabi ownership to boost revenue in an attempt to curb losses and comply with UEFA regulations.

“If there’s something wrong we’ll be punished,” Guardiola said at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s derby against Manchester United.

City, which has been owned by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour for a decade, was punished by UEFA in 2014 for breaching the “Financial Fair Play” program. The settlement agreement eventually saw the club only forfeit $23 million in Champions League prize money. UEFA this week has not said how aware it was of City’s schemes, reported by German magazine Der Spiegel, to hide expenses and evade monitoring of spending on players.

“At the end, UEFA, FIFA, English federation has to say if we were wrong,” Guardiola said. “If we were wrong (we) will accept it but I hear what my club said to me and I trust a lot of them.”

There was no response to an email sent to three City media officers seeking comment on Guardiola discussing the possibility of the club facing further punishment. City did, however, send an emailed statement announcing a new contract through 2023 for winger Raheem Sterling on Friday.

City has also not responded to questions from The Associated Press about Guardiola’s contract, specifically whether he receives income from entities in Abu Dhabi or other teams owned by Sheikh Mansour. The Football Leaks group published details showing how Roberto Mancini, who managed City from 2009 to 2013 and won the Premier League title in 2012, received more pay from a team Sheikh Mansour owns in Abu Dhabi to work as a consultant than from the Manchester club.

City has faced a week of damaging headlines about its conduct and financial arrangements since the first leaks were published a week ago.

Der Spiegel showed how the team’s holding company – state-backed Abu Dhabi United Group – sent cash to a shell vehicle which was created to supposedly buy the right to use players’ images in marketing campaigns. This helped turn almost $34 million into revenue instead of a cost, for the purpose of UEFA’s investigation of club accounts as the club tried to avoid being banned from European competitions for overspending.

While City said it “will not be providing any comment on out of context materials,” Guardiola was more open to discussing information related to the Football Leaks investigation. Real Madrid was revealed to be working with consultants on a 16-team Super League to kick off in 2021, effectively replacing the Champions League and outside the control of UEFA.

“I would like to know the ideas,” said Guardiola, who is in his third season coaching City. “But, for me, the Premier League, local leagues, are so important, with all the history.”

Transfer news: Icardi to PSG, Hendrick to Milan

Hendrick to AC Milan
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Jeff Hendrick has been loyal to two English clubs for long tenures but could be looking to a very different arena for his next step as a footballer.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland midfielder is out of contract at season’s end and Sky Sports is linking Hendrick with a move to — wait for it — Serie A mainstays AC Milan.

MORE: Premier League remaining fixtures ]

Hendrick, 28, has played 139 times for the Clarets since 2015, scoring 10 times with seven assists.

54 times capped by Ireland, Hendrick hit the pitch 215 times for Championship side Derby County prior to his Turf Moor move, scoring 26 times with 19 assists.

Burnley wants to keep Hendrick but the two have not agreed to a contract. Having had a taste of the Europa League with the Clarets and performing well, he may want to see how the seasons plays out for both sides. Milan sits in Serie A’s final UEL slot, while Burnley is four points back of sixth in the PL.

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

Meanwhile, rumored Newcastle and Juventus target Mauro Icardi may not get the chance to test the transfer waters this summer.

The combustible Argentine striker, 27, is going to stay at Paris Saint-Germain next season after the Ligue 1 champs agreed a big fee to permanently sign the loanee from Inter Milan.

The fee is said to start at $55 million and have the potential to rise another $9 million with incentives.

Icardi scored 20 goals with four assists during his first season in France after scoring more than 150 goals during his time in Italy between Sampdoria and Inter.

La Liga return: State of play in Spain ahead of June 11 restart

La Liga return
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La Liga will return on June 11 and El Clasico’s heated rivals will restart a battle for the top of Spain’s top flight.

Catalan clubs face drama at both ends of the table with Barcelona in first and Espanyol in 20th. Between there is mayhem.

MORE: Premier League remaining fixtures ]

Barca holds a two-point edge on Real Madrid in its bid for a third-straight La Liga crown and fifth in six seasons. Real will need a slip-up from Quique Setien’s men as there is not a Clasico to be found on the fixture list.

The other two Champions League spots will be hotly-contested with four sides within two points between third and sixth, especially considering the side bringing up the rear is powerful Atletico Madrid (45 points). Sevilla currently sits third with 47 points, with fourth-place Real Sociedad and fifth-place Getafe on 46.

Valencia is also in the picture with 42, and seventh-place will be a Europa League spot should Real Sociedad win the Copa del Rey or rivals Athletic Bilbao (37 points) win it and climb into sixth.

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

The bottom half of the table is a relegation picture, even if 11th-place Osasuna counts a nine-point lead on the bottom three of Mallorca (25 points), Leganes (23), and Espanyol (20).

The matches will, of course, be played behind closed doors, though Spanish authorities have hope for fans in the 2020-21 season.

Matchweek 28 will be played from June 12 to June 15 with the full La Liga schedule below, while there are also details on how you can watch on TV in the USA.

La Liga schedule

  • TV Channels: beIN Sports USA
  • Stream LiveVia beinSports
  • When: From June 11 to July 17

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 27 18 4 5 63 31 32 13-1-0 5-3-5 58
 Real Madrid 27 16 8 3 49 19 30 9-4-0 7-4-3 56
 Sevilla 27 13 8 6 39 29 10 6-5-2 7-3-4 47
 Real Sociedad 27 14 4 9 45 33 12 8-2-3 6-2-6 46
 Getafe 27 13 7 7 37 25 12 7-4-3 6-3-4 46
 Atlético Madrid 27 11 12 4 31 21 10 8-5-1 3-7-3 45
 València 27 11 9 7 38 39 -1 8-6-0 3-3-7 42
 Villarreal 27 11 5 11 44 38 6 6-4-3 5-1-8 38
 Granada 27 11 5 11 33 32 1 8-2-3 3-3-8 38
 Athletic Club 27 9 10 8 29 23 6 7-3-3 2-7-5 37
 Osasuna 27 8 10 9 34 38 -4 5-5-4 3-5-5 34
 Betis 27 8 9 10 38 43 -5 7-3-4 1-6-6 33
 Levante 27 10 3 14 32 40 -8 7-3-3 3-0-11 33
 Alavés 27 8 8 11 29 37 -8 6-5-3 2-3-8 32
 Valladolid 27 6 11 10 23 33 -10 3-7-3 3-4-7 29
 Eibar 27 7 6 14 27 41 -14 6-1-7 1-5-7 27
 Celta Vigo 27 5 11 11 22 34 -12 4-5-4 1-6-7 26
 Mallorca 27 7 4 16 28 44 -16 6-2-6 1-2-10 25
 Leganés 27 5 8 14 21 39 -18 4-3-7 1-5-7 23
 Espanyol 27 4 8 15 23 46 -23 1-5-7 3-3-8 20

Havertz makes history in Bayer win

Freiburg v. Bayer Leverkusen recap and video highlights
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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)