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Hertha Berlin bidding farewell to Pal Dardai after 23 years

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s long link with Pal Dardai will end on Saturday when he leads the team from the sidelines for the last time.

Hertha will also bid adieu to three players and two assistant coaches against Bayer Leverkusen, but Dardai — who is making way for under-23 coach Ante Covic — will receive the biggest send-off after 4+ years as coach and an association going back to 1996.

Dardai, who made a club-record 286 Bundesliga appearances for Hertha over 14 years, saved the club from relegation as coach and established a tough but unspectacular team capable of upsetting any of the rest.

[ MORE: Man City to lure Rodri? ]

Dardai has been enjoying the relative calm around the club since it was announced on April 16 that he would not continue. Hertha had lost its previous five Bundesliga matches.

“These four weeks were a dream. Even my wife said, `You don’t need a break. You look good again.’ That’s how it is without the media,” said Dardai, whose bid to qualify for European qualification was disrupted by a host of injuries.

Hertha is 10th with nothing but pride at stake on the final day of the season, in contrast to Leverkusen, which is fifth and fighting for Champions League qualification.

Dardai, who had complained that expectations had grown too high at the club, expressed his gratitude to Hertha for the chance to coach in the Bundesliga.

“I’m grateful for these experiences. I even got money for it,” Dardai said. “It’s a gift from life and I’ve shown that I can do the Bundesliga. Pal Dardai is now a whole other type of coach than four years ago.”

A defensive midfielder in his playing days, Dardai brought his uncompromising style to management, too, starting in the club’s youth setup. After taking over from Jos Luhukay in February 2015, Dardai saved the team from relegation and was given a permanent contract.

Dardai was also coaching the Hungarian national team, but he gave up that position to focus on the club. He brought tactical discipline to the side and convinced the underperforming players to up their game. Dardai led Hertha to a seventh-place finish in 2016, sixth in 2017 and a spot in the Europa League, and 10th last year.

A win over Leverkusen on Saturday would ensure Hertha’s best second half to the season since 2008-09.

“Then you couldn’t write anymore that Hertha played a bad second half to the season. Then you have something less to write about,” Dardai told journalists, a frequent target.

Instead of the usual 10 tickets for a game, Dardai ordered 30 for Leverkusen’s visit.

“This time I was cheeky,” Dardai joked. “The manager (Michael Preetz) was nice. I got everything I asked for and I didn’t have to pay for them this time.”

Hertha will also bid farewell to players Fabian Lustenberger, who is leaving after 12 years, Julius Kade, who is joining city rival Union Berlin on a free transfer, and American goalkeeper Jonathan Klinsmann, who did not have his contract extended.

Klinsmann, the son of former Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann, will not be in the stadium on Saturday because of “personal reasons,” Preetz said.

Assistant coaches Rainer Widmayer and Admir Hamzagic are also leaving.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

10-man Real Madrid comes back to draw 10-man Arsenal

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Maybe Zinedine Zidane ought to rethink his stance on Gareth Bale?

Of course it’s just preseason, but the on-the-market Real Match forward subbed into Tuesday’s match in Maryland on Tuesday and spearheaded a comeback 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

Real won in penalties, as all International Champions Cup matches must have a winner.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

Real was down a man after 10 minutes when Nacho Fernandez handled a ball on the goal line, and Arsenal also went down a man when Sokratis Papastathopoulos saw his second yellow of the contest in the 40th minute.

Alexandre Lacazette converted a penalty, then set-up Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a goal 14 minutes later as the Gunners handled their business early.

The chemistry between two remains very real.

Real started new boys Eden Hazard, Ferland Mendy, and Luka Jovic in addition to Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, Karim Benzema, and Sergio Ramos.

Bale came in for Hazard at halftime and poked a 57th minute rebound home and Marcelo set up Marco Asensio two minutes later to complete the comeback.

Asensio, sadly, would only last a few more minutes, needing to be stretchered off with injury.

Champions League wrap: PSV strikes late to win thriller (video)

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Five first legs of the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round are in the books, including a thrilling back-and-forth with a show-stopping stoppage time winner.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]


PSV Eindhoven 3-2 FC Basel

Bruma scored a debut opener for the Dutch hosts, who fell behind 2-1 in the 79th minute before Sam Lammers and Donyell Malen struck in the 89th minute and second minute of stoppage, respectively, to put PSV ahead.

Basel will be okay taken two away goals home via Albian Aljeti and Omar Alderete.

Lammers came in for Mexican star Hirving Lozano in the 79th minute to score the leveler within 10 minutes before Malen, who went the full 90, kept his focus to deliver this clever winner.

The New Saints 0-2 Copenhagen

Pieros Sotiriou and Robert Skov scored on either side of halftime to give the Danish powers a healthy advantage heading into the second leg.

Elsewhere
FK Sutjeska 0-1 APOEL Nicosia
Saburtalo 0-2 Dinamo Zagreb
Viktoria Plzen 0-0 Olympiacos

Wednesday
BATE Borisov v. Rosenborg — 1 p.m. ET
Ferencvaros v. Valletta — 2 p.m. ET
CFR Cluj v. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2 p.m. ET
Maribor v. AIK — 2:15 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade v. HJK Helsinki — 2:45 p.m. ET
Dundalk v. Qarabag — 2:45 p.m. ET
Celtic v. Nomme Kalju — 2:45 p.m. ET

Rodgers says no close bids for Maguire

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Those tired of seeing Harry Maguire‘s name in the headlines, hoping his transfer saga had concluded with weekend reports that Manchester United agreed to a fee with Leicester City, well, they are going to be sorely disappointed.

[ MORE: Who is Newcastle’s new $50M forward? ]

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers credited Maguire for his professionalism — the center back scored in a friendly win on Tuesday — and said that the club’s vice chairman Aiyawatt “Top” Srivaddhanaprabha has not received a fitting bid for the 26 year old’s services.

From The Leicester Mercury:

“There’s no big pressure to sell any player. If a player does leave Leicester City, then the player would need to be met because we have a top-level player, coveted by top-level clubs and I respect that,” Rodgers said. “Harry is on a long contract here and there’s been no valuation or near to that which would make Top have a look.”

Nooooooooooo.

Look, we’ve still got a few weeks until the close of the window, and every supporter has a target they want their club to acquire and some have some assets they hope stay in the same shirt at the deadline.

The Maguire story is getting a bit tedious now. He wants to go to Manchester United, but Rodgers is happy to keep him at Leicester. Maguire’s not the player who will quit on the club if he’s not sold, and Leicester’s hope of landing a replacement will dip as the deadline draws nearer and clubs like Burnley (James Tarkowski) realize their replacements options have been lessened by the wait.

Janssen leaves Spurs for Liga MX in $8M deal

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Vincent Janssen‘s less-than-ideal tenure with Tottenham Hotspur has come to its end, and he’s moving his way to this side of the Atlantic.

Liga MX side Monterrey has agreed to buy Janssen, Spurs announced Tuesday. The deal is for a reported $8 million.

[ MORE: Rich new deal for Hudson-Odoi ]

The Dutchman turned 25 this summer. He played just 42 times for Spurs after arriving from AZ Alkmaar for around $25 million in 2016, scoring six times, but did manage five goals and four assists in a half-year loan to Fenerbahce in 2017-18.

Janssen saw his time with the Netherlands national team peter out during his tenure at Spurs. After a red-hot start, he has not been capped since 2017. Janssen has seven goals in 17 caps.

His time at Spurs cannot be labeled as anything but a gigantic bust, but Janssen is still pretty young and has a chance to recapture his career momentum.

And he looks pretty happy about it.