Thorgan Hazard

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Euro qualifying: Hazard stars for Belgium, Wales grabs big win

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The early slate of Euro 2020 qualifiers on Saturday saw a few teams assure themselves of a playoff position as the qualifying cycle nears a close.

Wales was assured of at least a playoff spot after Sweden topped Romania yesterday, but they continued a push towards automatic qualification by topping Azerbaijan 2-0. Wigan striker Kieffer Moore opened the scoring 10 minutes in as Harry Wilson nearly bagged a stunning strike from outside the box, but his curler struck the underside of the bar, then the inside of the post, and came out. Moore was there to head home the rebound and Wales had the lead. They doubled that lead before halftime as Bournemouth’s Wilson would get his goal, and Wales saw out the rest of the match to move one point back of Hungary in an automatic qualifying position.

Belgium has already qualified for the finals, but Roberto Martinez’s side continued its good form with a romping 4-1 win over Russia behind a brace from Eden Hazard. Romelu Lukaku also scored in the match, while Thorgan Hazard bagged a goal as well. The win assured Belgium of the top spot in Group I, moving six points ahead of their opponents.

Scotland picked up a gutty road win at Cyprus 2-1 behind John McGinn‘s 53rd minute winner, jumping into third place in Group I, although they have already secured a playoff position thanks to their Nations League results. Ryan Christie and Georgios Efrem had cancelled each other out before Aston Villa’s McGinn poked home Greg Taylor’s cross from near the penalty area to put the visitors ahead for good in Nicosia.

Slovenia needs a miraculous comeback to qualify for the finals, but they stayed alive and in contention with a 1-0 win at Latvia behind an Igors Tarasovs own-goal in the 53rd minute. The victory pushed Slovenia to 14 points, two back of second-placed Austria in Group G and five behind Poland, but the top two teams in the group still have yet to play today and could both secure qualification wins.

Elsewhere, in a result with little effect on the qualification process, Kazakhstan topped San Marino 3-1 in a matchup of two eliminated teams.

Bundesliga wrap: Gladbach stays top, Werner runs riot for Leipzig

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There’s no unbeaten team left in the Bundesliga and the serial winners sit fourth as Germany’s top flight continues to spin heads.

[ MORE: Another big day for Pulisic ]

Bayern Munich lost again, ‘Gladbach won again, and Wolfsburg fell for the first time this season despite a strong day from USMNT center back John Brooks.

Scenes.

Borussia Dortmund 3-0 Wolfsburg

Thorgan Hazard registered a goal and an assist, while Raphael Guerreiro and Mario Gotze also chipped in to hand Wolfsburg its first loss of the season and send BVB into second with 19 points.

Rested at midweek, Brooks had a strong day with seven interceptions, two tackles, and 7 of 10 duels won. He was also credited with two key passes. Now, if he could just stay healthy to the international break.

RB Leipzig 8-0 Mainz

Timo Werner scored three goals and added three assists in a remarkable performance, Leipzig building a 5-0 lead by halftime through his first and markers by Marcel Sabitzer, Christopher Nkunku, Marcel Halstenberg, and Yussuf Poulsen. Nordi Mukiele also scored. Leipzig is third, ahead of Bayern and Freiburg on goal difference.

Eintracht Frankfurt 5-1 Bayern Munich

A ninth minute sending off of Jerome Boateng put already defense-weary Bayern in a real bind, and Eintracht took advantage in building a 2-1 halftime lead. FIlip Kostic had a goal and an assist as five different Eintracht players made their mark.

Alphonso Davies set up Robert Lewandowski’s goal to extend the Polish striker’s incredible season record to 14 goals in 10 league matches. He has scored in all 11 of Bayern’s league outings.

Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Borussia Monchengladbach

An explosive first half saw the leaders take and lose the lead before grabbing it for good thanks to red-hot Marcus Thuram.

Werder Bremen 2-2 Freiburg

Bremen continues to weather a tricky storm of fixtures, with Milot Rashica staying in form with a goal and an assist. American teen Josh Sargent came off the bench for the hosts, making an interception with a key pass and 11 touches in 18 minutes.

Union Berlin 1-0 Hertha Berlin

Sebastian Polter’s 90th minute penalty won the first Berlin Derby in the history of the Bundesliga. Seems crazy that there hadn’t been one yet! Union is now out of the bottom three and just a point back of Hertha.

Elsewhere

Hoffenheim 3-0 Paderborn — Friday
Fortuna Dusseldorf v. Koln — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Augsburg v. Schalke — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 10 7 1 2 21 10 11 3-1-1 4-0-1 22
 Borussia Dortmund 10 5 4 1 23 11 12 4-1-0 1-3-1 19
 RB Leipzig 10 5 3 2 25 10 15 2-2-1 3-1-1 18
 Bayern Munich 10 5 3 2 25 16 9 3-1-1 2-2-1 18
 SC Freiburg 10 5 3 2 19 12 7 2-2-1 3-1-1 18
 Eintracht Frankfurt 10 5 2 3 21 15 6 4-2-0 1-0-3 17
 VfL Wolfsburg 10 4 5 1 11 8 3 2-3-0 2-2-1 17
 1899 Hoffenheim 10 5 2 3 14 13 1 3-0-2 2-2-1 17
 FC Schalke 04 9 4 3 2 14 9 5 2-2-1 2-1-1 15
 Bayer Leverkusen 10 4 3 3 15 15 0 2-3-1 2-0-2 15
 Hertha BSC Berlin 10 3 2 5 15 17 -2 2-0-2 1-2-3 11
 Werder Bremen 10 2 5 3 17 21 -4 1-2-2 1-3-1 11
 1. FC Union Berlin 10 3 1 6 10 15 -5 3-0-3 0-1-3 10
 FSV Mainz 05 10 3 0 7 10 27 -17 2-0-2 1-0-5 9
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 9 2 1 6 10 16 -6 1-1-2 1-0-4 7
 1. FC Köln 9 2 1 6 9 19 -10 1-0-3 1-1-3 7
 FC Augsburg 9 1 4 4 10 21 -11 1-2-1 0-2-3 7
 SC Paderborn 10 1 1 8 11 25 -14 1-0-4 0-1-4 4

Bundesliga wrap: Dortmund beats leaders Gladbach; Bayern draws

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Another Saturday in the Bundesliga, another nutty set of results allowing a side the chance to claim the top of the league on Sunday.

David Wagner, Weston McKennie and Schalke are the ones licking their lips this time, knowing that a win at Hoffenheim will boost them into first.

[ MORE: Lampard “pleased” for Pulisic ]

Wolfsburg remains unbeaten with a draw, and dropped points for Borussia Monchengladbach, RB Leipzig, and Bayern Munich means an absurd nine teams are within two points of the top of the table.

Nine!

Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Borussia Monchengladbach

Gladbach’s stay atop the league could last just one match day, as Thorgan Hazard set up Marco Reus for a 58th minute goal and a place one point back of the top.

Werder Bremen 1-1 Hertha Berlin

Josh Sargent’s 7th minute goal didn’t stand up, thanks to Hertha’s electric Dodi Lukebakio scoring with 20 minutes to play. Watch the American striker’s goal, here.

Augsburg 2-2 Bayern Munich

The champions’ stumbles continued, with first minute concession providing a test. Bayern’s red hot pair delivered a lead, with Robert Lewandowski answering in the 14th minute, and Serge Gnabry supplying a 49th minute lead.

Stoppage time was the downfall, though, as Alfred Finnbogason helped himself to the equalizer with all kinds of questions for the Bayern defense.

Elsewhere

Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen — Friday
Union Berlin 2-0 Freiburg
Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-0 Mainz
RB Leipzig 1-1 Wolfsburg
Koln v. Paderborn — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hoffenheim v. Schalke — Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Mönchengladbach 8 5 1 2 15 7 8 2-1-1 3-0-1 16
 VfL Wolfsburg 8 4 4 0 11 5 6 2-2-0 2-2-0 16
 Bayern Munich 8 4 3 1 22 10 12 2-1-1 2-2-0 15
 Borussia Dortmund 8 4 3 1 20 11 9 3-1-0 1-2-1 15
 RB Leipzig 8 4 3 1 16 8 8 1-2-1 3-1-0 15
 FC Schalke 04 7 4 2 1 14 7 7 2-1-1 2-1-0 14
 SC Freiburg 8 4 2 2 15 9 6 1-2-1 3-0-1 14
 Eintracht Frankfurt 8 4 2 2 14 10 4 3-2-0 1-0-2 14
 Bayer Leverkusen 8 4 2 2 12 11 1 2-2-0 2-0-2 14
 Hertha BSC Berlin 8 3 2 3 13 13 0 2-0-1 1-2-2 11
 Werder Bremen 8 2 3 3 13 17 -4 1-1-2 1-2-1 9
 1899 Hoffenheim 7 2 2 3 6 11 -5 1-0-2 1-2-1 8
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 8 2 1 5 10 14 -4 1-1-2 1-0-3 7
 1. FC Union Berlin 8 2 1 5 8 13 -5 2-0-3 0-1-2 7
 FC Augsburg 8 1 3 4 10 21 -11 1-2-1 0-1-3 6
 FSV Mainz 05 8 2 0 6 7 18 -11 1-0-2 1-0-4 6
 1. FC Köln 7 1 1 5 5 16 -11 0-0-3 1-1-2 4
 SC Paderborn 7 0 1 6 9 19 -10 0-0-4 0-1-2 1

Bundesliga season preview: Bayern aims for No. 30

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Bayern Munich’s got another fight on its hands when it comes to the Bundesliga.

Sounds insane, we know; The eight-time defending league champions have seen five teams finish runner-up in Germany’s top flight, and shook off a quality challenge from Borussia Dortmund — the last team to win the league — last season to claim its 29th title.

Niko Kovac is back in the fold, as are the top stars of the team, but it’s still going to be feel a bit different with Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben, and Mats Hummels leaving town and a pair of World Cup winners — Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard — arriving at the Allianz Arena.

Robert Lewandowski is still there, as is Joshua Kimmich, and most of the club’s top minute eaters from last season’s title run. Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, and Kinglsey Coman will play even bigger roles, the club has quality young hotshots like Canadian teen Alphonso Davies, and Thiago Alcantara will be the straw that stirs the drink for young and old alike.

But BVB.

Dortmund has only lost Christian Pulisic, who’s headed “back” to Chelsea, and has again claimed an impressive summer haul (even if we knew a lot of the names prior to the end of the season).

Hummels is back, and Paco Alcacer’s loan has been made permanent. Oddly enough, those two moves might be the least impactful of the handful, with Bayer Leverkusen’s Julian Brandt and Gladbach’s Thorgan Hazard true difference makers in the midfield and Nico Schulz (Hoffenheim) a true hope for the back line.

Dortmund also added U.S. youth wunderkind Giovanni Reyna, though it’ll take time for the 16-year-old to run through the ranks.

The bookies think BVB is the only club with a prayer of claiming the title in place of Bayern, as reflected by 3/10 odds to the holders and 4/1 to the runners-up.

Tyler Adams and RB Leipzig are 33/1 odds, but that feels a little too much considering the additions of Ademola Lookman and Christopher Nkunku to go with Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu and Red Bull Salzburg star Hannes Wolf.

Bayer is a distant fourth, and has to hope that Kerem Demirbay’s move from Hoffenheim helps offset the loss of Brandt to BVB.

From Bayer on-down there’s a lot of uncertainty, as seemingly everyone lost a star of three. Eintracht Frankfurt sold Luka Jovic and Sebastien Haller and is hoping Dejan Jovelijc turns out to be their next big capture from Serbia. Hoffenheim sold Demirbay, Schulz and Joelinton (Newcastle) and is yet to really address the goals aside from lower league scorer Sargis Adamyan.

Gladbach sold Hazard and is betting on a breakthrough from Schalke purchase and former next big thing Breel Embolo. Speaking of Schalke, they could be in trouble again and will need a big show from U.S. international Weston McKennie.

All of this stands to claim the following: Though surprises are possible, the league is downright unpredictable heading into the season aside from spots 1, 2, and maybe 3.

(Photo by TF-Images/Getty Images)

Americans Abroad: John Brooks will lead Wolfsburg’s back line, the aformentioned McKennie is going to be terribly important to Schalke’s hopes, and Tyler Adams returns for a first full season at RB Leipzig.

Josh Sargent is hopeful to make himself a league mainstay with Werder Bremen, and

Timothy Chandler’s still on the books at Eintracht Frankfurt, Fabian Johnson remains at ‘Gladbach, and Alfredo Morales is still at Fortuna Dusseldorf along with Man City loanee and USMNT goalkeeper Zack Steffen.

German born U.S. U-20 defender Lennard Maloney has been promoted with FC Union Berlin, while former NYCFC striker Khiry Shelton is with fellow new boys Paderborn.

And there’s an MLS connection to join Adams, Davies and Shelton: Augsburg has added FC Dallas playmaker Carlos Gruezo.

The new boys: Union Berlin has bought enough talent to rise up the table a bit, while Paderborn and Koln have more questions than Union but still some guile in their ranks. Koln in particular might have the best shot to stay up on pedigree alone.

Walker extends Man City deal; Hummels returns to Dortmund

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Kyle Walker has extended his contract at Manchester City until the summer of 2024.

Walker, 29, has signed a two-year contract extension to his current deal at City with the England right back a huge part of their back-to-back Premier League titles wins.

Speaking about his new deal at the Etihad Stadium, Walker was delighted to extend his time playing under Pep Guardiola.

“I’m thrilled to have signed a new deal. Playing for City has been everything I’d hoped it would be and more,” Walker said. “It was an easy decision. I want to be competing for trophies, playing at the highest level, and I feel I have improved hugely as a player during my time here. The Club’s vision – both on and off the pitch – matches mine perfectly and I’m looking forward to spending the new five years here, hopefully winning more silverware.”

Walker has had his critics for some of his defensive work, but there’s no doubt he has improved on the ball under Guardiola and he is now versatile enough to play at center back if needed too.

His power and pace down the right flank gives City an extra option in attack and he has fulfilled his wish of winning trophies following his $63 million transfer from Tottenham in the summer of 2017 with two PL titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup to his name.

Walker has seen off the challenge from Danilo to his right back slot but it is believed City Joao Cancelo will arrive from Juventus this summer to push Walker further at right back. If he does lose his slot to Cancelo he can also play at left back at a push and at center back, so that versatility will be hugely important for Guardiola moving forward.


Everyone says you should never go back, but Mats Hummels has.

The German defender, 30, has returned to Borussia Dortmund after a three-year spell at Bayern Munich, as he heads back to the club where he won back-to-back Bundesliga titles from 2010-12.

Hummels returns to Dortmund on a three-year contract for a transfer fee in the region of $35 million, as that is only $4 million less than Bayern bought him for in 2016. Since then he has won four-straight league titles with Bayern Munich, his boyhood club, but couldn’t help them get any closer to winning the UEFA Champions League title again.

Even though he hasn’t played as well as he would have liked for Bayern and Germany over the past season or so, Hummels is still a very reliable center back and is also capable of playing out of the back. Given Dortmund’s raft of young defenders he could also be key in their development and the fact he left Dortmund in the right way and was a hero in their back-to-back league titles means he will be welcomed back with open arms.

Dortmund have now added Thorgan Hazard, Julian Brandt and Hummels during the offseason as head coach Lucien Favre has also signed a new contract. The second-place Bundesliga team from last season have certainly got their business done early as they look to jump ahead of Bayern who just pipped them to the title in 2018-19.

Hummels’ influence on and off the pitch at the Westfalenstadion will be hugely important for Dortmund.