Babel

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EURO 2020 qualifying: Germany, Netherlands seize control of Group C

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A roundup of all of Monday’s action in qualification for the 2020 European Championship…

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up against Uruguay? ]

Northern Ireland 0-2 Germany

Germany bounced back from its home defeat to the Netherlands on Friday and now sits atop Group C. Northern Ireland held the top spot in the group from the outset of qualifying, but the Germans finally drew level on games played (5) on Monday and subsequently leapfrogged them to reach the summit (12 points each).

Marcel Halstenberg (RB Leipzig) put Germany ahead in the 48th minute with a stunning side-volley from a seemingly impossible angle, followed by Serge Gnabry‘s deft five-hole finish to beat Bailey Peacock-Farrell in the 92nd.

Estonia 0-4 Netherlands

The Ryan Babel Renaissance rumbles on, with the 32-year-old bagging a brace in the Netherland’s 4-0 thrashing of Estonia. Since returning to the Dutch side in 2017, Babel has scored five goals after going nearly a decade without an international goal (May 2008 to November 2017).

The former Liverpool (now Galatasaray) winger got the first two goals on Monday, in the 17th and 48th minutes. Memphis Depay put the game to bed in the 76th, followed by the exclamation point from Georginio Wijnaldum in the 87th.

The Dutch (9 points) sit third in Group C three points back of both Germany and Northern Ireland (with a game in hand on each) after winning twice during this international window. Prior to this round of games, they were one or two bad results from failing to qualify for a third straight major tournament.

Scotland 0-4 Belgium

Belgium (18 points) now sits just one win from booking its place at EURO 2020, thanks to a 4-0 rout in Scotland. Having conceded just one goal (to second-place Russia) in their six games thus far, Roberto Martinez’s side has asserted itself as the class of Group I.

Romelu Lukaku made it 1-0 in the 9th minute, followed by defenders Thomas Vermaelen in the 24th and Toby Aldeweireld in the 32nd, and Kevin De Bruyne in the 82nd.

Eden Hazard missed out on this round of international fixtures due to the thigh injury which has prevented him from making his Real Madrid debut.

Elsewhere in EURO 2020 qualifying

Group E

Hungary 1-2 Slovakia
Azerbaijan 1-1 Croatia

Group G

Poland 0-0 Austria
Slovenia 3-2 Israel
Latvia 0-2 North Macedonia

Group I

Russia ____ Kazakhstan
San Marino ___ Cyprus

EURO 2020 qualifying: Netherlands rallies in Germany, Bale saves Wales

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Late heroics helped desperate Netherlands and Wales to big wins in their quests for a place at EURO 2020.

[ MORE: USMNT strengths and weaknesses ]


Germany 2-4 Netherlands

The Dutch sure can rally.

In a EURO qualifier which could almost be described as must-win, Ronald Koeman‘s Netherlands erased a 1-0 lead and overcame a late equalizer to beat Joachim Low’s Germany 4-2 in Hamburg on Friday.

Serge Gnabry‘s ninth minute goal gave Germany a lead it would take into the break, but Frenkie de Jong scored in the 59th before Ryan Babel helped force an own goal out of Jonathan Tah.

Donyell Malen blasted a close range shot home six minutes after Toni Kroos scored a penalty to restore the deadlock. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool) put the match to bed in stoppage time.

The Netherlands entered the match with three points from two matches, but had already lost to Germany in its home fixture and was staring up at a Northern Ireland team which is 4-0 to start qualifying. Germany entered the day 3-0.

Wales 2-1 Azerbaijan

However tumultuous his past few seasons have been, Gareth Bale remains an absolute baller.

Bale scored in the 84th minute against stingy Azerbaijan to boost the Welsh to three points and a spot in crazy deep Group E. Croatia and Hungary have nine points, while Slovakia and Wales now have six. A draw would’ve been good for Azerbaijan’s first point of qualifying

Elsewhere

Estonia 1-2 Belarus
Cyprus 1-1 Kazakhstan
Slovakia 0-4 Croatia
Austria 6-0 Latvia
Scotland 1-2 Russia
Slovenia 2-0 Poland
San Marino 0-4 Belgium

Refugee-friendly German club forgoes sponsor for cause

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BERLIN (AP) German soccer club Babelsberg is mixing sport with politics again.

The fourth-tier club is forgoing a main jersey sponsor for the coming season to carry the logo of Seebrucke (Sea-bridge), a group campaigning for safe routes for refugees to reach Europe.

[ MORE: Arsenal sign winger Nicolas Pepe for $87 million ]

Babelsberg, which previously generated headlines for its refugee-friendly stance and an ongoing campaign against Nazis, is donating 5 euros ($5.60) from every jersey sold to the organization.

“The club wants to support Seebrucke’s political engagement for the right to flee and against the criminalization of civilian sea rescues. We opted for Seebrucke because it is a Europe-wide movement that is not only committed to the rescue of refugees, but also to a fundamental rethink in the areas of flight and migration with the focus on the rights of refugees,” the club says on its website.

“With this step, Babelsberg 03 commits itself to the basic principals of humanity and a solidarity-based welcome culture, and sends a signal against the deter-and-repel politics of the European Union.”

Babelsberg was in a position to support Seebrucke after the end of its previous sponsorship agreement with Lonsdale. Main sponsors Oatly, an oat-milk manufacturer, and EWP, a local energy company, both said they were happy just to support the club and leave the jersey free for another sponsor or political message.

“For us, only Seebrucke came into question. We were always engaged in favor of humanitarian issues so it was a natural fit,” Babelsberg spokesman Thoralf Hontze told The Associated Press on Thursday.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic at Chelsea: “I’m really happy” ]

The new jerseys have been selling well with fans eager to support the cause. The club’s first batch was sold out within 24 hours. The club is also offering fans a “solidarity membership” with 50% of the proceeds going to Seebrucke.

Babelsberg is the biggest soccer club in Potsdam, just to the southwest of Berlin and capital of the state of Brandenburg. The team lost its first game of the new season in Germany’s northeastern league at rival Dynamo Berlin 3-1 on Sunday, but the club’s sporting achievements have long been eclipsed by its political activity.

In 2014, Babelsberg formed Germany’s first team of refugees, Welcome United 03, which entered the country’s lowest league the following year, while last year it refused to pay a heavy fine from the Northeast German Soccer Federation after its fans chanted “Nazi pigs out” at Energie Cottbus supporters in response to right-wing chants and Nazi salutes.

Babelsberg eventually paid the fine after a compromise was reached where half went toward its measures against racism and the other half was to be used by the federation for similar measures.

The affair prompted Babelsberg to step up its “Nazis out of the stadiums” campaign, since joined by many other high-profile clubs including Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen and St. Pauli.

Babelsberg’s next game is at Chemie Leipzig on Saturday, when the team will wear the Seebrucke jerseys for the first time.

Jean-Michael Seri joins Galatasaray on loan from Fulham

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One of the most lauded transfers one year ago turned into one of the most disappointing failures in recent Premier League memory as Fulham flop Jean-Michael Seri leaves the relegated Whites to join Galatasaray on loan.

Tracked by the likes of Barcelona and Arsenal, it seemed a coup when Fulham announced the midfielder’s capture from French side Nice for around $32 million. He started Premier League play in excellent form, hitting the ground running with smooth passing, solid link-up play, and what turned out to be Fulham’s goal of the season against Burnley early on.

That goal turned out to be his high-water mark, as the Ivorian’s form dipped sharply with Fulham’s loss total rising higher and higher. Eventually, Seri found himself on the bench behind the likes of Kevin McDonald and Calum Chambers as the season dragged on.

Seri’s loan to Galatasaray reportedly comes with a meager $1.6 million loan fee with an unreported option to buy tacked on. He will link back up with Ryan Babel who joined Fulham on a short-term contract in January and looked bright on the wing before his deal ran out and he moved to the Turkish club as a free agent.

Fulham is making wholesale changes this summer, with the departure of Babel and Seri offset by the arrival of Ivan Cavaliero and Martell Taylor-Crosswell, with more moves rumored. The Whites have been linked with Anthony Knockaert of Brighton.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Alderweireld to Roma, Haller to West Ham

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According to Sky Sports, Roma sporting director Franco Baldini is in London to discuss a move for Tottenham defender Toby Alderweireld. The 30-year-old was a regular for Spurs along the back line last season, but reportedly has a clause in his contract where he can leave for a bargain price of $31 million. That clause reportedly expires July 25, leaving clubs with little time to take advantage of such a steal.

Still, Roma seems determined to lower this price even further, hoping to convince Spurs that Alderweireld could leave next summer for free with many bigger clubs scared away by his large wage demands and advanced age. Alderweireld rejected a contract offer from Spurs hoping to secure a bigger payday elsewhere, and if reports from Italy are to be believed, the offer from Roma are not exactly the massive windfall he may have hoped for.

There ultimately seems to be a lot more to go on this front before it becomes a reality. Daniel Levy, a known negotiator, likely won’t be spooked by letting a 31-year-old defender walk next summer after five strong seasons at the club and just $18 million spent to bring him from Ajax in 2015. The payday would be nice, but Alderweireld is still a strong starter at this point in his career and isn’t terribly valuable on the open market. Keeping him another season and letting him walk for free isn’t the worst decision Levy could make.


West Ham has been reportedly interested in Eintracht Frankfurt striker Sebastien Haller, but until recently, the player was not keen on the move. However, there’s apparently been a change of heart, and a $45 million deal may be back on.

According to L’Equipe reporter Hugo Delom, British agent Willie McKay has convinced Haller that a move would be best instead of holding out for a Champions League club. The 25-year-old scored 20 goals for Frankfurt last season across all competitions last season, including 15 in 29 Bundesliga appearances.

The Hammers need a goalscorer in the worst way. The only natural strikers on the roster are Javier Hernandez and Jordan Hugill. Chicharito is 31 and rumors are flying of an exit this summer, while Hugill spent last season on loan at Middlesbrough and struggled, scoring just six goals in 37 Championship appearances. Meanwhile, Robert Snodgrass is aging at 31 years old and Marko Arnautovic has departed for the Chinese league.


Aston Villa is reportedly in play for Brazilian U-23 captain Douglas Luiz. The 21-year-old midfielder is with Manchester City, having joined back in the summer of 2017 from Brazilian side Vasco de Gama, but he spent last season out on loan at Spanish side Girona and his pathway is still blocked by the wealth of talent in the senior squad.

According to the BBC report, a deal has been agreed upon for $19 million that would see Luiz move to the newly promoted side on a permanent basis. The Brazilian was unable to obtain a British work permit last summer, the partial reason for his loan to Girona, meaning he would have to give that another go for Villa to deploy him this coming season. The report states, however, that they feel confident he will be able to earn a work permit and be eligible to play this campaign.


According to numerous reports in England, with Telegraph reporter John Percy first on the scene, Wolves winger Ivan Cavaleiro is on his way to recently relegated side Fulham, with a medical scheduled for today and the possibility of an announcement soon after.

The reports all say that Fulham will snag the 25-year-old Portuguese international on a season-long loan and will have an option to buy at the end of the season. Cavaleiro was instrumental in Wolves’ promotion campaign two years ago, scoring nine goals and assisting 12 as Wolves won the Championship title, but he struggled to find time on the field in the Premier League last season, making just six starts all season. Wolves also offloaded fellow winger Helder Costa to Leeds United last week.

Fulham needs wingers desperately, with the departure of Ryan Babel and Andre Schurrle on his way back to Borussia Dortmund upon the club’s relegation. Cavaleiro seems a perfect capture for the Whites, as he has proven his ability in the Championship and could be an asset moving forward should they return to the top flight. The Whites are also linked this summer with Brighton winger Anthony Knockaert and Bournemouth midfielder Harry Arter.


According to the Liverpool Echo, Everton has responded to an injury from RB Leipzig regarding to Ademola Lookman by setting a price of $31 million.

RB Leipzig is familiar with the 21-year-old England youth international, as the German side had Lookman on loan for the second half of the 2017/18 season. He made 11 Bundesliga appearances including seven starts, scoring five goals and improving as the loan spell went on. They attempted to sign him permanently at the end of his loan spell last summer but could not come to an agreement.

He returned to Everton and spent all of last season as a bench option, making just three starts but seeing the field 21 times, failing to find the back of the net. Lookman is with the Everton squad in Switzerland for their preseason tour.