Mesut Ozil retires at 34; World Cup winner won four FA Cups with Arsenal


Enigmatic and undeniably gifted, World Cup winner Mesut Ozil has called time on his playing career at age 34.

Ozil joined Istanbul Basaksehir last summer but appeared just seven times for the first team, totallling 142 minutes due to continued back troubles.

[ MORE: Breaking down Premier League title race ]

The 92-times capped German international is best known for his time at Arsenal and Real Madrid but came through the youth ranks at Schalke before breaking onto the international stage with Werder Bremen.

Ozil registered 54 assists across three La Liga seasons with Real Madrid, and came within one assist of Thierry Henry’s Premier League record when he set up 19 goals in the 2015-16 season.

He finished his Arsenal career with 44 goals and 79 assists in 254 appearances.

Here’s part of his announcement, from Instagram:

“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity but in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it’s become more and more clear that it’s time to leave the big stage of football.”

Ozil won the 2014 World Cup with Germany and scored in the 2010 and 2014 editions of football’s top international showcase. He claimed four FA Cups with Arsenal, the German Cup with Werder Bremen, and Copa del Rey and La Liga honors with Real.

Outspoken on social issues, Ozil was the subject of some controversy over statements denouncing Chinese internment camps and the treatment of Uyghurs in the country.


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Haaland scores five goals as Manchester City cruise into UCL quarterfinals


Erling Haaland scored five goals to send Manchester City through to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals, with a 7-0 victory (8-1 on aggregate) over RB Leipzig, at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Haaland put the game and the tie to bed with his first-half hat trick, making it 4-1 on aggregate to Pep Guardiola’s side, before adding his fourth and fifth before he was substituted in the 63rd minute. The list of players to score five goals in a single Champions League game is short: Lionel Messi (2012, vs Bayer Leverkusen) and Luiz Adriano (2014, vs BATE Borisov).

With his fifth goal, Haaland also broke Manchester City’s single-season goals record (all competitions), which previously belonged to Tommy Johnson (38 goals). The way Haaland is going, he will likely be the only player to challenge his own mark — now 39, with 28 in the Premier League, 10 in the Champions League and one in the League Cup — for many, many years to come. Man City could play as many as 20 more games this season, if they reach the final of all three remaining competitions.

[ MORE: Erling Haaland – Video of all his Premier League goals in 2022-23 ]

Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne scored Manchester City’s other goals on the night.

[ MORE: Champions League score predictions ] 

Haaland historically dominant in Champions League

Tuesday’s hat trick four five goals took Haaland’s career tally of Champions League goals to 33, passing Wayne Rooney, Luis Suarez, Samuel Eto’o and Kaka (to name a few) on the night. Haaland is, of course, 22 years old.

Eto’o required 78 games to reach his 30 UCL goals; 85 for Rooney; and 86 for Kaka. Erling Haaland has played just 26.

Cristiano Ronaldo is the all-time record holder with 141, followed closely by Messi’s 129.

Stars of the show

Manchester City vs RB Leipzig
Photo: FotMob.com

What’s next?

The draw for the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals will be held on Friday (7 am ET). Chelsea, Bayern Munich, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Benfica are already through to the last-eight, with Real Madrid (5-2 ahead of Liverpool) also expected to join them. Napoli hold a 2-0 advantage over Eintracht Frankfurt ahead of the Serie A side’s home leg on Wednesday (4 pm ET).

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How to watch Manchester City vs RB Leipzig live, stream link, kick off time

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 14 at 4pm ET
Stats: Via scoreboard on NBCSports.com
How to watchTUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

Guardiola knows the pressure is on City to win the Champions League this season, especially with the charges against them for alleged breaches of Premier League rules. They trail Arsenal in the Premier League title race by five points with 11 games to go and although they obviously want to (and can) win every single trophy they play for, winning the Champions League this season is their main priority. Kevin de Bruyne, Erling Haaland and Phil Foden have all looked back to their best in recent weeks and City are cranking through the gears as they love to do at this point of the season.

Leipzig proved to have plenty of fight in them in the first leg as they clawed their way back into the game and Gvardiol’s header sees them head to the Eithad level. They are solid in midfield and defense and with Timo Werner, Dani Olmo, Andre Silva and Dominik Szoboszlai in attack, they have plenty of options and will be very dangerous on transitions. If they had Chrisopher Nkunku back fit they would have even more of a chance to dump City out of Europe.

Manchester City team news, lineup options

Pep Guardiola has no fitness issues at all to worry about. That gives him so many options in midfield and attack but Haaland, De Bruyne, Foden and Grealish seem to be his go-to players right now. However, Mahrez scored in the first leg and Bernardo Silva has been superb in recent months as he’s slotted in all over the place.

RB Leipzig team news, lineup options

Leipzig will be without Xaver Schlager (ligament damage) and it is likely Christopher Nkunku (hamstring strain) will not be available as both were injured in their recent defeat at Borussia Dortmund. Leipzig have also been without Abdou Diallo who has been training on his own as he returns from knee issues, while goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi is out for the season after knee surgery.

Chelsea snaps to life, bounces Dortmund to reach Champions League quarters


Chelsea sealed a place in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by beating Borussia Dortmund 2-0 (2-1 on aggregate) on Tuesday at Stamford Bridge.

Raheem Sterling scored just before halftime and Kai Havertz made the most of a second chance at an early-second half penalty.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Dortmund led 1-0 after one leg through Karim Adeyemi, but Chelsea boss Graham Potter insisted that his team was very good in the game, just wasteful.

Chelsea joins Benfica in the hat for the last eight, while Dortmund refocuses itself on their pursuit of the Bundesliga crown.

[ MORE: Champions League score predictions

Potter’s Blues shows style, substance in huge win

Chelsea’s been through the ringer over the past two months, and almost all of it has been of its own doing.

But there’s been some question as to whether Graham Potter should be to blame for the mix of new- and old Chelsea failing to find its finish despite finding real resolves in its own end.

Once Tottenham beat Chelsea 2-0 a few weeks ago, the Blues no longer had defensive strength on which to lean and some were saying ex-Brighton boss Potter was out of his depth and soon to be shown the door.

Potter had admitted his struggles to deal with the criticism lobbed his way, but he stayed in his line and kept encouraging his players to deliver the goods.

Boy, did they, although it’s a little comical that Raheem Sterling butchered his first crack at Chelsea’s first goal and Kai Havertz had to retake the penalty that led to 2-0.

Nothing was going to come easy for the Blues, but Chelsea kept fighting and Potter deserves some credit for that.

The Blues are unlikely to qualify for the Champions League in any other matter than winning the competition, but the honest truth is that they very much have looked capable of that over 180 minutes versus a good Dortmund side.

Anything goes in the final 8, and we’ve already seen Chelsea win the European Cup in a down season earlier in the London club’s celebrated existence.

Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund player ratings: Stars of the Show

Kalidou Koulibaly and Marc Cucurella: Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta was out and Benoit Badiashile ineligible, so the back three was a bit stretched. Wesley Fofana was fine, don’t get us wrong, but Koulibaly and Cucurella had us saying, “Thiago who?” (before quickly answering ourselves, “Thiago Silva. One of the best of his era, duh.”

Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund player ratings

Emre Can: Effective at both ends of the pitch as the former Liverpool man did his best to eliminate his former rivals.

Enzo Fernandez: There will come a day when someone will righteously criticize the expensive Argentine, but it won’t be Tuesday: Nine recoveries and four clearances next to a roving Mateo Kovacic.

Kai Havertz: Might’ve not been the tidiest, hitting the post early and missing his first penalty, but the German ran his shorts off and was credited with six recoveries. If anything, he should be lauded for not wilting during this ice-cold run as he’s been the only attacker religiously named starter by Graham Potter.

Giovanni Reyna: The 20-year-old was pulled into action after only five minutes, and was credited with two chances created and came within a brave Chelsea block of scoring shortly after Havertz’s penalty.

What’s next?

Chelsea goes to Leicester City for a 10am ET Saturday scrap with the Foxes.

Dortmund has to dust itself off for a Revierderby at 12:30pm ET Saturday at Schalke.

Graham Potter reaction

Asked how he feels about the win: “I’m not sure! There is a lot of emotion in the end. It was tense in the end but the boys played fantastic. I am delighted for them to get the win and great for everyone here.”

“Inevitably, in life, you’re going to have bad times and good times. I don’t see any other way to look at it. It’s how you react to the bad times, get some perspective and analyze it in the correct way. Things are never bad forever but it felt like that sometimes.”

Raheem Sterling goal video: England star makes good for gaffe

Kai Havertz penalty video: Second time’s the charm

How to watch Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund live, stream link, kick off time

Date/Time: Tuesday, March 7 at 3pm ET (UPDATE: Kickoff delays to 3:10pm by BVB late arrival)
Stats: Via scoreboard on NBCSports.com
How to watchTUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

This game is Chelsea’s season. This game will define if Graham Potter’s superstars can improve in the final months of the campaign and go on another deep run in the Champions League. They have to stay solid defensively and hope their forwards finally click together. They can beat Dortmund and they showed that in the first leg as they dominated the game, missed several chances and were hit on the counter. Sound familiar, Chelsea fans?

The Blues know if they score in the first half then it’s all systems go but they will be wary of this young Dortmund side who despite a slew of injuries to attacking players, they’re flying right now and have absolutely no fear. If Potter can guide Chelsea to at least the Champions League semifinals then Chelsea’s fans will ease some of the pressure on him, for now. Of course they want to finish in the Premier League’s top four but that seems very unlikely this season so the only way they will be playing in the Champions League next season is by winning this tournament. Expectations are high. First up: let’s see if Chelsea can reach the quarterfinals. Baby steps.

Chelsea team news, lineup options

OUT: N’Golo Kante (hamstring), Thiago Silva (knee), Edouard Mendy (shoulder), Armando Broja (knee), Mason Mount (abdominal/suspension), Cesar Azpilicueta (concussion)

Borussia Dortmund team news, lineup options

OUT: Youssoufa Moukoko (knee), Karim Adeyemi (muscle), Gregor Kobel (muscle), Julien Duranville (muscle), Mateu Morey Bauza (fitness)

Bayern Munich vs PSG: How to watch live, team news, updates

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Bayern Munich and PSG lock horns in Germany for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie and the Germans have a slender advantage.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Kingsley Coman’s goal was the difference between the two teams in the first leg in Paris two weeks ago, as PSG missed several chances and Kylian Mbappe had just returned from injury but couldn’t quite beat the offside trap on several occasions. However, they are without Neymar for the rest of this season as he’s undergone surgery on his ankle injury.

The French champs know that winning the Champions League title is their main aim for this season (and any season) and they need Lionel Messi and Mbappe to stand tall and deliver a famous win in Munich. As for Bayern, they haven’t been at their best for most of this season but they’re figuring out how to win games without the great Robert Lewandowski.

[ MORE: Champions League score predictions

Here’s everything you need for Bayern Munich vs PSG.

How to watch Bayern Munich vs PSG live, stream link, kick off time

Date/Time: Wednesday, March 7 at 3pm ET
Stats, updates: Via scoreboard on NBCSports.com
How to watchTUDN, Paramount+

Key storylines

This is all about whether or not Mbappe and Messi can deliver the trophy PSG’s Qatari owners crave the most. The star duo are capable of ripping apart any team on their own but together they should be unstoppable. That hasn’t quite been the case since Messi arrived at PSG but with his contract set to expire this summer, this may be his last chance to win the Champions League.

Bayern have been solid and steady under Julian Nagelsmann and after a poor start to the Bundesliga season (at least by their own incredible high standards) they are now back atop the Germany top-flight and look like they will kick on in the final months of the campaign. They need Yann Sommer (who has been superb in the absence of injured captain and legend Manuel Neuer) to have a big night in goal, plus Dayot Upamecano and Matthijs de Ligt must hold firm with Benjamin Pavard suspended.

Bayern Munich team news, lineup options

OUT: Benjamin Pavard (suspended), Manuel Neuer (broken leg), Lucas Hernandez (ACL), Noussair Mazraoui (muscle)

PSG team news, lineup options

OUT: Neymar (ankle), Presnel Kimpembe (Achilles), Renato Sanches (hamstring), Achraf Hakimi (hamstring)

Manchester City let late lead slip away as RB Leipzig battle back


Manchester City will have plenty of work to do in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie with RB Leipzig after letting a late lead slip away in a 1-1 draw at Red Bull Arena on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

It was Riyad Mahrez who opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark, as the Algerian received a pass from Ilkay Gundogan and let the ball roll through the legs of Josko Gvardiol before hammering a first-time, left-footed strike inside the far post. Ironically, it was the press that gave Leipzig fits and saw Manchester City win the ball high up the field and led to the goal.

RB Leipzig drew level on 70 minutes, and in truth it had been coming for most of the second half. Marcel Halstenberg served up a corner kick toward the top of the six-yard box, where Gvardiol, whose price tag is only still rising after his star turn at the 2022 World Cup, rose highest and headed past Ederson to make it 1-1.

Stars of the show

Riyad Mahrez: Scored the game’s opening goal and very nearly made it 2-0 just minutes into the second half, if not for a last-gasp block inside the six-yard box. Not a bad way to celebrate his 32nd birthday (Tuesday).

Josko Gvardiol: The 21-year-old Croatian center back, who will almost certainly move to a new club (Man City?) for a fee in the neighborhood of $100 million this summer, helped to keep Erling Haaland quiet on the night and kept his side in the tie heading into leg no. 2.

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City
Photo: FotMob.com

What’s next?

RB Leipzig will head to Manchester for the second leg and try to shock the world once more at Etihad Stadium on March 14.

Follow @AndyEdMLS

How to watch RB Leipzig vs Manchester City live, stream link, kick off time

Date/Time: Wednesday, February 22 at 3pm ET
Stats: Via scoreboard on NBCSports.com
How to watchTUDN, Paramount+

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City head-to-head record

These two teams have only faced each other twice before and that came in the Champions League group stage last season. City won at home 6-3 in an incredible game which saw Nkunku score a hat trick for Leipzig, while the final group stage game (City were confirmed as group winners and Leipzig had to settle for third) saw Leipzig win 2-1 at home in an empty stadium.

Key storylines

All of the pressure is on Man City heading into this last 16 clash and that should suit Leipzig pretty well. They have shown they can sit back and defend and then punish teams on the counter and although Nkunku is just back from injury, he suffered a slight setback in training ahead of this game. City should win with Erling Haaland particularly hungry in the Champions League and he knows this Leipzig side well. This will be an intriguing first leg, especially with Kevin de Bruyne, John Stones and Aymeric Laporte all missing for City.

RB Leipzig team news, lineup options

OUT: Abdou Diallo (knee), Peter Gulacsi (knee), Dani Olmo (muscle); DOUBT: Christopher Nkunku (muscle)

Manchester City team news, lineup options

OUT: John Stones (thigh), Kevin de Bruyne (unknown), Aymeric Laporte (unknown)