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De Bruyne hopes for Kompany reunion

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Kevin De Bruyne hopes to link up with Vincent Kompany once again when his days at Manchester City are up.

De Bruyne, 28, has been in sensational form for club and country early in the season and has been the standout player in the Premier League so far.

Speaking ahead of Kompany’s testimonial game at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday the Belgian wizard told the Sun that he would love to play for his former teammate, who is now the player-manager of Anderlecht.

“I hope his [Kompany’s] career will be just as amazing at Anderlecht as it was at City. I’ve told him to keep a place in his team for me in a year, or seven, when I’m finished here,” De Bruyne said. “If he does do that for me I will already have my next destination lined up; my next job. I will definitely miss him being around City.”

Kompany is a legendary figure at City and in Belgium, but his time in charge of Anderlecht in a player-manager role hasn’t started well.

The Brussels club have lost three of their opening six matches in the league, but they beat top of the table Standard Liege 1-0 before the international break. Kompany has a very young squad to work with and is trying to develop a totally new playing identity, all while he’s still playing as a center back.

Kompany’s pull is clear and Anderlecht will definitely want him around for as long as possible if the likes of De Bruyne want to join his project. Quite how they’d be able to afford KDB wages is another matter altogether, but the fact he wants to do it one day shows how much respect and love he has for Kompany.

The latter was instrumental in De Bruyne joining City, and we all know how well that has worked out for both parties over the past few seasons.

After winning back-to-back Premier League titles together at City, De Bruyne and Kompany seem destined to stay inextricably linked.

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

Kompany backs Lukaku, hits out at “lack of diversity” in board rooms

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Vincent Kompany is sticking up for his Belgian teammate after Romelu Lukaku was racially abused this weekend in Italy.

New Inter Milan striker Lukaku was subject to monkey chants, and he was understandably angered by them.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up v. Mexico? ]

The shocking answer from Inter fans was that (paraphrasing here) he shouldn’t consider the chants racist because they are just aimed to rile people up.

Kompany is now player-manager at Anderlecht, and the ex-Manchester City star says we shouldn’t expect major changes in how racism is eradicated from football until there are more people in positions of power who’ve had to deal with racism in their lives.

“You are dealing with a crowd of people and decision-makers who are telling him how he should think and feel about this when you have no decision-makers who are remotely in touch with what he has experienced in his life.

“That’s the real issue, if you go through the boards at UEFA or FIFA, the Italian League or the English League there is a real lack of diversity. If you don’t have diversity in places of power like boardrooms then you can’t have the right decisions in terms of sanctions – it’s a simple as that.”

There’s a lot to that. Sure, academically anyone can appreciate the painful effects of racism, but it’s impossible to truly grasp it without having a representative voice in places of power.

Kompany has long been one of the wiser voices in world football. Frankly, he seems like a future UEFA or FIFA board member.

Inter fans tell Lukaku monkey chants are not racist in Italy

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An Inter Milan supporters group has told Romelu Lukaku that monkey chants directed at him by Cagliari fans is not racist in Italy.

In a truly mind-boggling statement released by Inter’s Ultras from the Curva Nord, they claimed that racist comments towards Lukaku are a “form of respect” as opposition fans are “afraid of the goals you might score against them” and they urged Lukaku to “please help us to clarify what racism really is and that Italian fans are not racist.”

Lukaku, 26, issued a statement after the incident on Sunday, as videos clearly showed monkey chants being directed at him from Cagliari fans as he scored the winning penalty kick in the second half to send Inter Milan to the top of the Serie A table.

“We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist. You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a REAL problem,” said L’urlo della Nord. “We understand that it could have seemed racist to you but it is not like that. In Italy we use some ‘ways’ only to ‘help our teams’ and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up.

“We are a multiethnic fans organisation and we have always welcomed players from everywhere. However, we have always used that ‘way’ with other teams’ players in the past and we probably will in the future. We are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans. You have to understand that in all Italian stadiums people cheer for their teams but at the same time they use to cheer against the opponents not for racism but to ‘help’ their own team.”

Hazard brothers both out of Belgium’s European qualifiers

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BRUSSELS (AP) Real Madrid’s Eden Hazard and his brother Thorgan have both withdrawn from Belgium’s squad for upcoming European Championship qualifiers because of injuries.

The Belgium team says the Hazards left the squad after it was determined they weren’t fit to play against San Marino on Friday or Scotland on Monday.

Eden Hazard has a thigh problem and hasn’t played a competitive game for Real Madrid since joining the Spanish club in the summer.

Real coach Zinedine Zidane had expressed frustration that Hazard was joining up with the Belgian team instead of focusing on his recovery.

Borussia Dortmund’s Thorgan Hazard missed his team’s Bundesliga loss to Union Berlin on Saturday with a bruised rib.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports