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Bundesliga wrap: USMNT’s Steffen shines on debut; BVB stomps Augsburg

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A day after Bayern needed Robert Lewandowski heroics to rescue an Opening Day draw, more thrills were on the menu Saturday.

Werder Bremen 1-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Zack Steffen was under siege but only beaten once in his Bundesliga debut, as the Man City loanee from these United States helped the visitors to a massive three points on Saturday.

Steffen saw 25 attempts from the hosts, including two from American substitute Josh Sargent, as Fortuna Dusseldorf got into the win column. From Bundesliga.com/En:

“It’s a lot of new challenges for me, and I want to perform and execute my job,” said the former Columbus Crew backstop. “I’ve got a good group of guys around me, a good coaching staff to lift me up and give me confidence, and make me feel at home.”

Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Augsburg

Augsburg’s first minute goal from Florian Niederlechner had some thinking that BVB could join Bayern Munich in an opening weekend stumble, but that was simply a mirage.

Paco Alcacer scored twice, new boy Julian Brandt also scored, and Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho found the score sheet as BVB scorched the visitors at the Westfalenstadion.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Paderborn

It was expected to be a cakewalk for the Champions League outfit, but Bayer had to twice overcome pesky Paderborn equalizers.

Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz had their 10th and 19th minute goals answered before Kevin Volland put it to bed in the 69th.

Elsewhere

Bayern Munich 2-2 Hertha Berlin — Friday
Freiburg 3-0 Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach 0-0 Schalke
Wolfsburg 2-1 Koln
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Hoffenheim
— 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Union Berlin v. RB Leipzig
— Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 5 1 4 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 SC Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Bayer Leverkusen 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 VfL Wolfsburg 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC Berlin 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Bayern Munich 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 FC Schalke 04 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 1. FC Union Berlin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 1899 Hoffenheim 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Eintracht Frankfurt 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 RB Leipzig 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 SC Paderborn 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 FSV Mainz 05 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 FC Augsburg 1 0 0 1 1 5 -4 0-0-0 0-0-1 0

Opportunistic Spurs, VAR produce draw at Man City

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Tottenham Hotspur flummoxed controlling Manchester City, twice answering goals in a 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and then getting a shocking reprieve from VAR in stoppage time.

The draw snaps a 15-match league winning streak for City.

Gabriel Jesus‘ well-crafted would-be winner was taken off the board when VAR found the ball to glance off Aymeric Laporte‘s arm.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

On a day when Harry Kane was largely invisible, Erik Lamela was dynamite in producing a goal before assisting Lucas Moura.

Kevin De Bruyne had two assists for City, setting up Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero. But Aguero will be remembered more for his angry run-in with Pep Guardiola after a second half substitution.

Man City out shot Spurs 13-1 in the first half, but Spurs scored with its only shot on target.

For the match, the shots margin was 30-3.


Four stars 

4. Davinson Sanchez – Couldn’t reach De Bruyne’s second assist of the day, but was otherwise impenetrable.

3. Raheem Sterling – A menace down the flank with a pretty headed goal to boot (or head).

2. Erik Lamela – Subbed off with a goal and an assist in the 85th.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne – On fire from Moment No. 1.

Three things we learned (from JPW)


The game began with monstrous spells of possession from the hosts, and Spurs had trouble getting any touches on the ball over the first quarter hour.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Sterling broke through in the 20th minute when De Bruyne swept a gorgeous cross to the back post. The English striker was at an acute angle and Hugo Lloris will have wanted to do better with a well-placed header.

That seemed to have snapped Spurs out of their funk, if only for a minute, as Tanguy Ndombele spotted Lamela on a counter and the Argentine used two Spurs to craft a clever shot around Ederson.

The stalemate lasted a dozen minutes, as De Bruyne moved toward the touch line and cut an invitation outside the six. Aguero RSVP’d with the outside of his boot.

De Bruyne looked ready to single-handedly will a third goal past Lloris, but it was Spurs who claimed the next marker when Moura — on for less than a half-minute — headed Lamela’s corner home.

Rodri then pasted a shot that Lloris tipped over the bar, and the French goalkeeper had to react quickly after charging out to misplay the corner.

Giovani Lo Celso subbed into the match for the final few minutes to make his much anticipated Premier League debut.

Premier League Preview: Man City v. Spurs

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The Premier League has a monumental match for the second-straight week, as champions Manchester City host Tottenham Hotspur in a tension-filled affair at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Both sides controlled play in opening day wins, though an early concession had Spurs facing blocks of defenders, and will be raring to meet the challenge at hand.

Mauricio Pochettino says Giovani Lo Celso will make his first match day 18 for Spurs, though he will not start; Jan Vertonghen may return to the Starting XI.

As for City, Fernandinho is fit and Bernardo Silva may also make his season debut after missing the opener with a minor injury.


Projected lineups

Man CityEderson; Walker, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko; Rodri, De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva; Jesus, Aguero, Sterling

Spurs: Lloris; Walker-Peters, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose; Winks, Ndombele, Sissoko; Eriksen, Moura, Kane.


What they’re saying

Guardiola on whether Raheem Sterling is the top attacker in the league: “There are many and he’s one of them. Look at the top six teams and you will find many, many players. The premier League is incredible. We have many but even still. I didn’t watch all the other games but Sterling has played good from the beginning and been clinical. We want more. Everybody wants more and he wants more. It was just the first game.”

Spurs on chasing the champsWe are going to fight again this season against ourselves to try to improve our balance. If we analyze the last five years we always improve every season in different things but in the Premier League I think we decrease in our performance or in the points we got. That is our challenge, to improve ourselves. To improve our numbers in the Premier League. Of course in Europe we have improved and become more competitive and got to the final of the Champions League.


Prediction

City lost exactly one home match last season, a 3-2 thriller with Palace on Dec. 22. Take that out, and they allowed nine goals in 18 wins; Nine were clean sheets and they did not trail aside from the Palace match.

That said, Spurs have experience scoring at the Etihad from that 4-3 second-leg Champions League thriller in April.

We expect a special tactical treat, and goals: Man City 2-1.

La Liga preview: Three-peat for Barcelona?

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As we close out the decade, Barcelona has been far and away the best team in Spain, and possibly Europe, over the last ten years. This summer, they may have gotten even stronger.

The La Liga season kicks off on Friday, with Barcelona going for its third-straight league title and eighth in the last ten years. Barcelona won the 2019 title by 11 points over Atletico Madrid and a stunning 19 points over rivals Real Madrid. Now, as Barca gets set to face Athletic Bilbao in the season opener, it’s upgraded at key positions that could give Barcelona what it needs to win the league again, and even potentially the UEFA Champions League.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Barcelona this summer signed France World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann, French defender Jean-Clair Todibo and Spanish defender Junior Firpo. But the crown jewel could be central midfielder Frenkie de Jong. The former Ajax star has trained in the Dutch possession model for the last two years, which Barcelona bears a strong resemblance to.

As such, de Jong has seamlessly transitioned to the Barcelona squad, and could make Barcelona the team to beat in Europe for many years to come. Imagine de Jong spraying passes to Lionel 2Messi, and Barcelona could start winning matches 4-1, 5-0, on a consistent basis.

Nipping on Barcelona’s heels this coming season will likely be Atletico Madrid. Diego Simeone, in his ninth season in charge, has probably had the best transfer window of any team in La Liga. Despite losing veterans like Griezmann, Diego Godin, Juanfran, Felipe Luis and young stars like Rodri (Man City) and Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Simeone and the Atletico board have brought in some of the brightest stars that can light up La Liga.

The star of the bunch is Joao Felix. The 19-year-old has started life incredibly with Atletico as he’s scored three goals and dished out four assists in preseason action. Atleti also added former Tottenham right back Kieran Trippier and brought untested but talented midfielder Marcos Llorente over from Real Madrid. The new improvements have helped make Atleti an even better attacking team. That may seem against Simeone’s principals, but perhaps with Diego Costa leading the line this season and Felix on the left, we could see an Atleti squad outscoring its opponents, rather than grinding out low-scoring games.

On the other side of Madrid is Real Madrid, and at the moment, it’s not looking good. Los Blancos had plenty of hope last spring, when Zinedine Zidane returned to take over as coach and Real fans hoped for a big change this summer.

Instead, it’s been just more of the same. Yes, Real Madrid has brought in Eden Hazard, Eder Militao and Luka Jovic among others. But according to reports, the one player Zidane wanted Real Madrid to sign the most was Paul Pogba. Unless something drastic changes at Old Trafford, that won’t happen.

Meanwhile, the backline has hardly changed. Marcelo, Sergio Ramos and Nacho are still around, and while Militao and Ferland Mendy bring some youth to the backline, it’s still not a world-class unit. Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro struggled at times during the season, and while Vinicius Jr. is a talent, Hazard’s arrival means there’s less playing time for the Brazilian.

Plus, there’s the distraction of James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale still in the squad, plus Marco Asensio’s season-ending injury. It may be a somewhat tough year in the center of Madrid this year.

Soccer federation to investigate racist abuse in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Soccer officials in Spain say they will investigate the alleged racist abuse that led an English team to abandon a game in protest.

The Andalusian soccer federation said Thursday it will look into what happened in the Under-18 friendly game last week between Queens Park Rangers and Spanish club Nervion in Seville.

QPR CEO Lee Hoos said Wednesday the team was “forced to abandon” the match because of “abuse from opposition players.”

The Andalusian federation says it will open the investigation even though it was not involved in the organization of the game. It says it does not tolerate racist abuse and praised QPR players for abandoning the match if they were subject to abuse.

The Spanish soccer federation and Nervion did not immediately respond to a request for comment.