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Burning Question: What one rule would you change?

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This week at ProSoccerTalk we will be asking some burning questions we have when it comes to the beautiful game. Today’s topic is rule changes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

With VAR instituted this season, the rulebook has never been under more scrutiny. Some people have criticized the offside rule, claiming the rules must adapt to the changing times and the improved technology. Others have attacked the penalty kicks tiebreaker, saying it doesn’t fairly determine the outcome of a match.

So, with that in mind, let’s break down some of the rules we could change.

The obvious one: The handball rule

While the offside rule has been the most scrutinized over the past year with the implementation of VAR in the Premier League and beyond, the handball rule is almost certainly the most unanimously despised rule of the current times. More specifically, a handball in regards to the buildup to a goal.

The current rule in the FIFA rulebook states: The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

  • The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm
  • A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity

While this sounded nice in theory, in practice it was horrible. Goals were chalked off because the ball brushed an attacker’s arm, even if the attacker gained no advantage and it did not help the attacker in his creation of the goalscoring opportunity. Goals were even chalked off in the buildup to a score, and while that is being changed this coming season, with IFAB

Man City was held to a point by Spurs early in the season thanks in large part to the late winner being chalked off for a clip off Aymeric Laporte’s arm, and it only got worse from there. Leicester City saw a key goal chalked off in a 1-0 loss to Norwich City just days before the suspension of Premier League play, with Kelechi Iheanacho barely grazing the ball with his hand before scoring what would have been the go-ahead goal.

There’s been near-unanimous outrage over this rule, and it has to go.

The controversial one: The offside rule

With VAR firmly entrenched in the world of soccer, the offside rule has come under increased scrutiny over the past calendar year, with fans believing the technology has ruined the spirit of the rule.

Thanks to video review, offside decisions are being scrutinized down to the millimeter, and goals are being cancelled for inch-tight calls. Offside decisions have always been black & white, but unlike the goal-line technology, the fluidity of offsides in the past and the difficulty of making a call has always given fans more leeway to accepting tight decisions even if they were incorrect. Now, with technology making the calls truly black & white, many fans feel the calls have hampered attacking play.

The problem is there are no good solutions to fix the problems presented. Some have suggested a six-inch allowance for attackers in offside decisions, but all that will do is push the black & white line six inches further, meaning there will still be inch-tight decisions further out. Other ideas floated include a margin of error, likely visualized by a thicker line for the defender than the attacker on replay. This idea is similar to the “umpire’s call” in cricket where the rules write into law an admission that technology cannot always be pinpoint accurate. The issue that arises here is that while in cricket the technology is attempting to predict the flight of a ball, VAR is simply placing lines on a field with far less assumptions or predictive room for error needed.

At the end of the day, there is no good solution, and fans are probably going to have to simply get used to the new way of doing things. Some good goals will be ruled out, and VAR can certainly improve its methods to allow for more transparency, but as far as the laws of the game are concerned, this one is here to stay.

The long-debated one: Penalties

Penalty shootouts have been debated for years as a match-decider.

Let’s just put this to bed right here: Are penalties a fair sporting way to determine a match? No. Is there a better, more fun option to decide a game without running the players to death? No. This one’s also here to stay, thanks in part because there’s few better options and also in part because they’re downright tense and fun. Leave penalties alone.

The other long-debated one: Away goals

The away goals rule is another tiebreaker often disparaged for its non-sporting qualities. While detractors of the away goals rule have more to stand on than those who dislike penalties, and it probably could be done away with altogether with very few people even taking note, it’s not the problem those who call for change make it out to be.

The dark horse: Goalkeeper protection

While the rules protecting goalkeepers are talked about on rare occasions, they have mostly become an accepted part of today’s game. Which is ridiculous. The amount of play goalkeepers are afforded while entirely uncontested is flat out ridiculous. Every time a goalkeeper goes up to claim a ball in the air and is left unchallenged is a crime.

While yes, there were far too many goalkeeper injuries in the past, the rules in today’s game are an overreaction. There has to be a middle ground for players to challenge a goalkeeper’s authority while still keeping the netminders safe.

PSG’s Mbappe praises Klopp, Liverpool in recent interview

Kylian Mbappe Liverpool
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This is going to delight the Anfield set.

Paris Saint-Germain mega striker Kylian Mbappe has admitted admiration for the way Liverpool plays, as conversations continue regarding his future.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news | Current table ]

Mbappe, 21, may be the most valuable commodity in the world given his position, accomplishments, and skill set. For France, he has a World Cup to go with 34 caps, 13 goals, and 10 assists. For PSG and Monaco combined, he’s scored 117 goals and 65 assists in 180 appearances.

He doesn’t turn 22 until December.

But there’s long been a thought that the World Cup winner will eventually have to leave PSG to cement his legacy given the relatively shallow competition in the league.

“This season, Liverpool have been a machine in the Premier League,” he told The Mirror. “They have made winning look easy but the truth is that it is never easy. Performances like they have been having don’t just happen.

“To be as ruthless as they have been would come from lots of hard work in training and from having a very good manager.”

Liverpool fans will be nodding along, beckoning the center forward with arms extended and hands waving him to them.

Real Madrid has often been the rumored destination, and we’ve argued that there’s no fee too high for this player considering how many years he has ahead of him.

With transfer fees possibly ducking low this summer after a wake-up call from the coronavirus, could Liverpool upgrade its dangerous front three with one of the top center forwards in the game?

The fact that the Reds reportedly negotiated a percentage of jersey sales into their new apparel deal could help, because it’s easy to imagine red Mbappe jerseys all around the world.

Canada’s Davies shines again as Muller brands him Roadrunner (video)

Alphonso Davies
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Alphonso Davies sees your expectations and he moves past them with vigor.

The Canadian phenom again took the international spotlight and ran with it, past it, and over it on Tuesday as Bayern Munich put one hand on its eighth-straight Bundesliga title with a 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund at the Westfalenstadion.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news | Current table ]

We’ll get to the stats and the style in a bit, but let’s start with some video that showcases the elite physical package he’s built.

Davies isn’t grinding here and he’s actually a bit slow to recognize the danger as Erling Haaland works over David Alaba.

Haaland isn’t at top speed and balance, too, but it doesn’t matter. Davies is there in a hurry. And it’s also about what he does when he get there. There are plenty of speed merchants in the game, not all of them can tackle Erling Haaland.

[ RELATED: Real Madrid targeting Davies as Marcelo replacement ]

That’s why this viral soundbite from Thomas Muller is gaining a lot of traction (also because it’s funny).

The roadrunner quip is the main attraction, but hidden in it is the implication that Davies has these elite make-up skills but is only going to get better with experience and awareness. He’s cutting out Haaland a minute earlier.

Before you watch that, though, here’s what Davies said on the play.

“Obviously being a young player I get caught out of position a lot and I’m happy to have the speed I have. That’s a factor in my game that I use very well, but I think over the years going forward with this team I will definitely learn more about my position, better positioning so it doesn’t look like I’m out of position just running back as fast as I can to catch up.”

Davies moved from Vancouver Whitecaps to Bayern just last year, but is already the undisputed best player for the Canadian national team with five goals and eight assists in 17 caps.

His 54 tackles are tied for 16th amongst Bundesliga players (Remember: He’s 19).

His 72 dribbles are top in the league (Again: 19).

Only three players have won more duels than his 180 (Not 20 until November).

And his two professional matches of left back experience before October were with Bayern II in 3.Liga this Fall. That’s bonkers.

Meep-meep.

Bundesliga wrap: Bayer, Gladbach wobble; USMNT back is Eintracht hero

Bundesliga wrap
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Second-half goal explosions led to excitement in two of three late Bundesliga kickoffs on Tuesday, with an American making a super sub impact in Frankfurt.

Bayern won 1-0 at Dortmund earlier in the day, opening the door for a challenge on second. Bayer and Gladbach both declined to enter.

[ MORE: Latest Bundesliga news | Current table ]

A loss for the former and draw from the latter all make this an absolutely wonderful day for the seven-time reigning champs in Bavaria.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-4 Wolfsburg

A Maximilian Arnold set piece star show saw the German behind three goals as Wolfsburg firmed up its top six credentials with a big win against red-hot Bayer.

Marin Pongracic headed two of Arnold’s free kicks home with a third taking a turn off the wall to give Arnold a goal of his own. Renato Steffen also scored in the win.

Julian Baumgartlinger scored very late for Bayer, who sinks fifth with 53 points.

Wolfsburg’s win gives them 42 points, four more than seventh-place Freiburg.

Wolfsburg had the two best chances of the first quarter-hour and it could’ve easily been 1-0 or 2-0 if not for a crucial blocked from Bayer defender Edmond Tapsoba and a fine save from Tomas Hradecky minutes later.

Bayer found some footing in the latter stages of the first half, forcing a save out of Koen Casteels before Kai Havertz tempted the frame with a header off a set piece.

The visitors’ breakthrough came before halftime, as ex-Salzburg defender Pongracic rose high to meet a terrific Arnold free kick from the right side to make it 1-0.

Wolfsburg had two quick chances to start the second half, Hradecky making a right arm save and a second chanced missed by the visitors.

Arnold’s 65th-minute free kick then took a hard turn off Kai Havertz inside the Bayer wall en route to defying Hradecky for 2-0.

The third goal arrived in short order, smallish Steffen outleaping Wendell to a Joao Victor cross and heading home.

American defender John Brooks subbed off in the 82nd minute with Wolfsburg holding a 4-0 lead and Havertz in the midst of one of his worst matches in a while.

Brooks posted six clearances, three interceptions, and a tackle and had a rough passing day by his very high standards. Brooks completed 70 percent of his passes, including four-of-eight long balls (Sofascore).

USMNT teen Ulysses Llanez made the bench for Wolfsburg but was an unused sub despite the big score line.

https://twitter.com/FOXSoccer/status/1265372544305168389

Werder Bremen 0-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

The hosts built on a weekend win by going toe-to-toe with a still out-of-sorts Gladbach on Tuesday at the Weserstadion.

Gladbach moves fourth, level on points with Bayer Leverkusen but ahead on goal differential after the latter’s blowout.

Bremen is still 17th after gaining its 22nd point, two points back of 16th and five back of 15th.

Gladbach had the first half edge in possession and shots but could not break down Bremen, who matched them chance-for-chance on the day.

USMNT youngster Josh Sargent earned another start for Bremen, going 74 minutes with 26 touches, a clearance, an interception, and two fouls drawn. He wasn’t at his best in duels but, again, Bremen’s system puts center forwards on an island and you get the feeling Florian Kohfeldt designed for defense against powerful Gladbach.

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-3 Freiburg

USMNT back Timothy Chandler scored with his first touch of the game to complete a thrilling comeback for Eintracht in a 3-3 draw.

Chandler subbed into the game in the 81st minute and deposited Filip Kostic’s handiwork in the 82nd, three minutes after Daichi Kamada had pulled the hosts to within one.

Eintracht showed a lot of heart in the comeback, out-attempting Freiburg 34-10. The point moves Eintracht five points clear of the bottom three and seven ahead of the automatic relegation places.

Freiburg remains seventh, now four points back of Wolfsburg and capable of finishing the midweek as low as ninth.

Vincenzo Grifo scored a goal and later set up another for Freiburg, with Nils Petersen and Lucas Holer also finding the back of the net.

Grifo’s third goal of the season gave the visitors a 28th-minute lead that would last only seven minutes.

Andre Silva answered with his 10 goal in all comps for Eintracht on loan from Milan, and it was 1-1 at the break.

Freiburg scored in the 67th and 69th to take a lead and, seemingly, another step toward the Europa League.

Instead, it was Eintracht who firmed up their footing at the other end of the table.

Here’s Chandler’s equalizer, a nice feat of power and coordination.

Wednesday

12:30 p.m. ET: RB Leipzig v. Hertha Berlin
2:30 p.m. ET: Augsburg v. Paderborn
2:30 p.m. ET: Union Berlin v. Mainz
2:30 p.m. ET: Hoffenheim v. Cologne
2:30 p.m. ET: Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Schalke

Kimmich reacts to thrilling winner for Bayern in Der Klassiker

Joshua Kimmich
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Joshua Kimmich isn’t an out-and-out scorer, but he looked the part after his heroics led Bayern Munich to a huge victory.

Ask him about his stunning chip over Borussia Dortmund in Tuesday’s Klassiker, and the Bayern Munich midfielder doesn’t tone it down.

“The best goal in my career,” the German midfielder said, via Bayern Munich. “It was very important.”

Kimmich has 28 senior goals between club and country, and this one was a beauty. Kimmich took a lay-off from Kingsley Coman and spun a ball over the flailing Roman Burki.

[ 3 THINGS: Dortmund 0-1 Bayern ]

Burki is a fine keeper and Dortmund had only allowed one goal in his last six outings before the derby. It was going to take something special to beat him.

Kimmich says that Hansi Flick’s staff had prepared the Bayern players for the habits of the strong and aggressive goalkeeper.

“We were previously informed that Bürki is always relatively high.”