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Spain revamps Super Cup (and others should follow suit)

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Ever read a tournament concept and immediately think nearly every other league should adopt it?

La Liga is taking its version of England’s Community Shield — the Spanish Super Cup — and making changes that see the league season kick off in style.

[ MORE: CONCACAF Champions League returns Tuesday ]

Normally the winners of the Copa del Rey and La Liga meeting for a piece of hardware, the Spanish federation will now hold a four-team tournament abroad.

The tournament would include the Copa del Rey finalists and the two top league finishers (obviously extending to the third and fourth place teams if needed).

Flip it on its ear and imagine that MLS was kicking off its season not with myriad friendlies and the CONCACAF Champions League, but the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup winner, MLS Cup finalists, and Supporters’ Shield winner (especially if it was mandated that the cup finalists mixed it up in the semis).

For the Community Shield, you could include the Premier League winners, League Cup winners, FA Cup winners, and either the second place team or the “reigning Community Shield winner.” The gut reaction might be to rebel against “ugh, another game,” but if it’s taking the place of a Stateside friendly between second-choice sides? Come on!

Bundesliga: Dortmund’s lead disappearing after three straight draws

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Borussia Dortmund’s Bundesliga title hopes took another blow Monday in a goalless draw at last-place Nuremberg.

[ FA CUP: Paul Pogba scores, assists as Man Utd bounce Chelsea (video) ]

Nuremberg goalkeeper Christian Mathenia made a host of saves to deny Dortmund a first win in three league games. The Bundesliga leaders have now drawn three successive games and have seen their lead whittled down from nine points in the 15th round to three over six-time defending champion Bayern Munich.

The first half was marked by protests from the home fans against Monday night games, with supporters holding signs showing raised middle fingers and a huge banner criticizing the German soccer federation, the German soccer league “and co.” for making Nuremberg play on a Monday night for the second time this season.

The game was held up on a number of occasions when fans threw black tennis balls onto the pitch during Dortmund corners. The visitors were particularly aggrieved when referee Harm Osmers blew for half time before Dortmund could take its fourth corner as it had been held up by another barrage of balls.

Dortmund had toiled to break through Nuremberg’s tight defense, frustrated that Osmers did not call some questionable-looking challenges.

[ FA CUP DRAW: Man City, Man United avoid derby showdown ]

Maximilian Philipp tried his luck from distance, but it was Nuremberg captain Hanno Behrens who had the first big chance in the 28th minute when he was denied by a reflex save from Roman Buerki. Behrens also went close from the resultant corner.

Mathenia then made three good saves in quick succession to deny Mario Goetze. Axel Witsel went close for Dortmund before the break before Mathenia again denied Goetze.

Goetze was again thwarted by another save from Mathenia early in the second half, and the trend was to continue with the visitors dominating possession but struggling to find a way through.

Dortmund’s Jacob Bruun Larsen thought he scored late but the goal was ruled out as fellow substitute Paco Alcacer had strayed offside before setting him up.

Dortmund has now failed to win any of its last five competitive games.

Nuremberg was playing its first game under interim coach Boris Schommers after it sacked Michael Koellner on Tuesday.

Pro Piacenza kicked out of Serie C after 20-0 loss

Pro Piacenza
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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) A third-tier Italian soccer team has been kicked out of the league after losing a match 20-0 on Sunday.

[ FA CUP: Paul Pogba scores, assists as Man Utd bounce Chelsea (video) ]

Lega Pro, the governing body of Serie C, announced the exclusion of Pro Piacenza on Monday.

Pro Piacenza, which has financial problems and hadn’t paid its players or staff, needed to present a team for the match or would have been thrown out of the division after having already forfeited three matches.

[ FA CUP DRAW: Man City, Man United avoid derby showdown ]

The team turned up at Cuneo with just seven players, the minimum number required. They were all between 16 and 19 years old, with captain Nicola Cirigliano listed as the coach, and one of the players forgot his identity card, so the masseur was forced to play.

Cuneo led 16-0 at halftime of the match, which Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina said would be “the last farce.”

Foden, Man City advance in FA Cup (video)

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  • Foden scores twice
  • Ederson with reaction save
  • Sane bloodies keeper’s nose with winner
  • Armond pulls one back before Foden restores two-goal lead

Second-half goals from Leroy Sane and Phil Foden ended Newport County’s game effort for a shock defeat of Manchester City in FA Cup fifth round action at Rodney Parade on Saturday.

Sane hit a close-range shot off the nose of Exiles’ keeper Joe Day and into the goal, as City finally found a goal on the beat-up shared rugby pitch, and Foden hit a bounding shot past Day with just over a quarter-hour to play in the 4-1 win.

Newport County’s goal came when Padraig Armond hit a loose ball off Aymeric Laporte, over Ederson, and into the goal. But Foden completed his brace with a dribble and finish off the ensuing kickoff, and Mahrez blistered the back of the net with a stoppage time finish.

City moves onto the quarterfinals, where they’ll join Watford, Brighton and Hove Albion, and Millwall.

[ LIVE: Follow all the FA Cup scores here ]

Newport was up for the challenge, at least early, and their rugged pitch certainly helped close the gap between the first- and fourth-tier English sides.

In fact, a terrific glove save from Ederson kept City level just after the quarter-hour mark. Mickey Demetriou’s long throw made its way to Tyreeq Bakinson, but the latter’s header was stymied by City’s Brazilian backstop.

A lively Riyad Mahrez was a consistent threat for City in the early stages, having one shot turned out for a corner and blazing a left-footed effort wide from atop the 18.

Despite the Algerian’s best efforts, Michael Flynn’s men took the match to halftime 0-0.

City broke through via Sane, whose tight-angled shot bloodied Joe Day’s nose on the way into the goal.

[ WATCH: Flynn greets “genius” Guardiola ]

Day got low to stop John Stones‘ bid for 2-0, and the game reached its final half-hour as a one-score affair.

An Ederson giveaway came close to gifting Newport County a bid for an equalizer, but the Brazilian was bailed out by his backs.

Phil Foden gave a ay a free kick rescued by Ederson after a few headers in the 73rd.

The pitch helped City’s second goal, as Foden’s shot bounded over a diving Day to make it 2-0.

Day then saved a Sane shot with his face in the 85th minute before catching a Gabriel Jesus effort moments later.

The Exiles pulled one back, but City bagged a pair of goals afterward through Foden and Mahrez to flatter their match with a 4-1 score line.

Hamsik calls time on legendary Napoli career, off to China

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Marek Hamsik has left Napoli for a big money deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Hamsik, 31, apologized to fans of the Neapolitan club and praised them for their support over 520 matches, which included 121 goals, 111 assists, two Italian Cups and one Italian Super Cup.

[ MORE: Icardi stripped of captaincy ]

He joins ex-Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco and former Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan on DL Yifang.

Still, the veteran is emotional about leaving Italy.

“Napoli. I got it tattooed on my skin, just like the first victory in the Italian Cup after 25 years. It’s impossible to forget that party. It’s impossible to forget the moment when I broke Bruscolotti’s record or when I beat Maradona’s goal record.”

Hamsek has 110 caps for Slovakia and definitely had more top-end time with him on the European stage, but felt the need for a rich new adventure. Napoli’s administration has made it clear there will always be a home for him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned sooner rather than later.

 

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Napoli nel cuore 💙 Per prima cosa mi devo scusare con voi tifosi azzurri: volevo, speravo, sognavo di salutarvi con un grande giro di campo abbracciato dal vostro applauso. Mi avete sempre sostenuto e amato incondizionatamente nei momenti belli o difficili: di questo ve ne sarò sempre grato. “Napoli” ce l’ho tatuato sulla pelle: così come la prima vittoria in Coppa Italia dopo 25 anni. Impossibile dimenticare quella festa 💙 impossibile dimenticare il momento in cui ho battuto il record di presenze di Bruscolotti o quando ho superato il record di gol in maglia azzurra del DIO del calcio Diego Armando Maradona. Questo mi rende estremamente orgoglioso. Qui a Napoli sono nati i miei 3 figli, napoletani a tutti gli effetti ☺ Desidero ringraziare tutti: il Presidente che mi ha dato la possibilità di rimanere qui per 12 anni e che ha accettato la mia volontà di provare una nuova esperienza; tutti gli allenatori che mi hanno allenato, ai quali devo la mia crescita come calciatore e come uomo; tutto lo staff medico, tecnico e la Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli tutta; i miei amici, dei quali sentirò la mancanza, ma che so non mi abbandoneranno mai perché sono parte della mia famiglia. Appena sarà possibile spero mi concederete un ultimo giro di campo al San Paolo, per dedicarvi e ricevere il saluto che meritiamo. Vi amo e amerò questa città per sempre. GRAZIE DI CUORE a tutti 💙 e un grandissimo in bocca al lupo ai miei compagni per il resto della stagione: spero riuscirete a vincere l’Europa League! #sempreforzanapoli💙

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