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Robben, Rafinha commit to Bayern Munich for another season

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MUNICH (AP) — Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben is staying with the club for another season.

Bayern says that both Robben and Brazilian defender Rafinha have agreed to extend their contracts through June 2019, and will soon sign their new deals.

The 34-year-old Robben, who joined Bayern from Real Madrid in 2009, had been considering other offers but he follows Franck Ribery, 35, in committing to another season with the Bavarian powerhouse.

The 32-year-old Rafinha joined in 2011 from Genoa.

Real Madrid wins, nabs two away goals in Germany

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  • Real: Marcelo (44′), Asensio (57′)
  • Bayern: Kimmich (28′)
  • Bayern out shoots Real 17-7

Marcelo and Marco Asensio scored as Real Madrid erased an early deficit to top Bayern Munich 2-1 in at the Allianz Arena the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Joshua Kimmich scored for Bayern, who will need to score at least two goals Tuesday at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Arjen Robben made it just eight minutes before an injury ended his evening, bringing Thiago Alcantara into the fray.

Real Madrid created opportunities, but found Bayern’s defense a stiffer test than even Juve’s bunch. Jerome Boateng made a key block after Luka Modric sprang Ronaldo, and the Bavarians dealt well with the ensuing corner kicks.

A couple odd bounces allowed Dani Carvajal a rip on goal, but he was challenged and stuck the ball right at Sven Ulreich.

Kimmich struck out of nowhere with a bullet goal from the left of the Real defense, beating Keylor Navas for a 1-0 lead.

Franck Ribery should’ve had the score line 2-0 after a well-worked team play, but he bungled Thiago’s easy square pass right to Navas.

Mats Hummels just missed Bayern’s second, too, with an awkward reaction shot popping over the goal.

Marcelo made it level with Real’s first proper chance in some time, belting a shot across the goal and beyond Ulreich from outside the 18. Away goal, unlocked.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Navas was busy again moments later, corralling an in-tight Thomas Mueller header.

Asensio put Real ahead just past the glove of Ulreich after being slipped a bit wide with a incisive pass from Lucas Vasquez. It all started with a Rafinha slip-slash-gaffe.

Navas was at the ready for a huge 67th minute save on a sequence rife with penalty cries from Bayern.

Ronaldo defied the offside flag but not the ref’s whistle for an arm trap before his 71st minute finish.

Robert Lewandowski missed a gorgeous chance to level the score in the 88th minute, but instead reached four-straight UCL games without a goal.

UEFA Champions League preview: Real, Bayern on pace for semis

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Real Madrid and Bayern Munich watched two of the biggest obstacles toward their reaching the UEFA Champions League Final fall on Tuesday, and now will hope to avoid losing their first leg advantages.

[ MORE: Man City-Liverpool recap | 5 things | Pep reacts ]

Real Madrid vs. Juventus
First leg: Juventus 0-3 Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo’s reigning champions bring three away goals home from Turin, and it’s difficult to believe even a club as storied as Juve can collect a three-goal win given the opposition and the venue of the Bernabeu. But if Juventus can score early, and it won’t be off the boots of suspended Paulo Dybala, maybe they can bring the whistles out in Madrid.

Manager Zinedine Zidane didn’t want to hear his side proclaimed favorites even before Man City and Barcelona bowed out of the tournament.

“I’m not interested in talk of favorites, I prefer to show it out on the pitch and we must respect all clubs and all aspects of football. In the match against Atlético we could have lost and I can’t give an explanation for that. That’s how the game goes. In any move you make, there is the chance to mess it up. If we put in a great performance and we focused throughout the match we have a good chance of battling through, but we must keep that idea in mind.”


Bayern Munich vs. Sevilla
First leg: Sevilla 1-2 Bayern Munich

Sevilla winning by one isn’t a crazy thought, especially considering the turned the same scoreline on Manchester United in the last round. Arjen Robben has been impressed by the game tape.

“They played really well in Manchester. They’re still a really good team.We have to be prepared for everything and concentrate in particular on ourselves. We won’t be playing for a draw. We always play to win. You always need top performances in the Champions League, and the same goes for tomorrow.”

James Rodriguez has plenty of experience against Sevilla, scoring four times in seven matches during his time at Real Madrid. He’s in the first year of a 2-year loan from the Madrid powers.

Robben nearly joined Man United

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Imagine a scenario with a young Cristiano Ronaldo and a young Arjen Robben bombing down the wings, floating in crosses or cutting inside to unleash powerful strikes on goal.

That scenario nearly came true.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

According to an interview in FourFourTwo magazine, Robben nearly joined Manchester United in 2004 after a positive conversation over dinner with then-manager Sir Alex Ferguson and a tour of the club’s training grounds.

But for whatever reason, nothing came of it. Soon, Chelsea snapped up the Flying Dutchman and the rest is history.

“I had a very good conversation with [Ferguson] over dinner in Manchester and we spoke about football and life,” Robben said. “I also went and had a good look around the training ground and everything was good.

“I had a very good conversation with Ferguson over dinner and we spoke about football and life. Had Manchester United offered me a deal straight after I met them, I would have signed. But after I went back to PSV nothing happened. There was no real contact and the deal didn’t happen. PSV were also negotiating with Chelsea at that time, so maybe they offered PSV more money? I don’t really know.”

Robben helped lead Chelsea to back to back Premier League titles, a pair of League Cup titles and an FA Cup crown before leaving for Real Madrid in 2007.

Man United won the Premier League title in Robben’s final year at Chelsea but only won a League Cup title in that span, as Chelsea were the dominant team in English football.

It’s fun to think though about what could have been, had Robben wound up at Man United, with two of the most exciting wingers in the world playing for the same club.

Bayern’s Arjen Robben won’t rule out future in MLS

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A growing perception of life in Major League Soccer has helped the league secure some of the world’s biggest names, and a Bayern Munich star isn’t ruling out a move to the United States when his contract expires this summer.

[ MORE: Conte hopeful Chelsea can expose Barcelona’s back line ]

Arjen Robben has enjoyed a tremendous career in Europe, particularly in his nine-year career with Bayern, but now his time with the German giants could be nearing an end.

In a recent interview with SportBuzzerRobben stated that he has an idea of where he’ll end up, and hasn’t ruled out a move to MLS.

“That’s exactly the current topic of conversation at my kitchen table at the moment, when talking to friends and family,” Robben said when asked about the possibility of carrying out his career in MLS, China or Doha.

“Now is the time that I have to make a decision. A few years ago, it was usually relatively straightforward but I am approaching the end [of my career] now and I have a lot to think about. It’s not easy but it’s also exciting. A lot is still open but I have already ruled out certain things in my head — but they are staying private.”

The 34-year-old also suggested that he would be open to playing for a couple more seasons.

“At the moment I feel very fit, very good and believe that I can play at the highest level for another year or two – that’s my goal too,” Robben said.