Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

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Ambitious Leipzig bullish with new coach before Bayern clash

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BERLIN (AP) Fast-rising Leipzig is betting on new coach Julian Nagelsmann to provide the edge it needs to finally end Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga hegemony.

The sides meet in the league on Saturday.

Leipzig, which has made no secret of its title ambitions, has been making steady progress since its formation in 2009, rising through the lower leagues, clinching Bundesliga promotion in 2016, and qualifying for the Champions League.

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Former coach of the year Nagelsmann is supposed to build on last season’s third-place finish, and has made a good start.

The 32-year-old Nagelsmann is the only remaining coach in Germany with a perfect record – three wins from three in the league and progress secured to the second round of the German Cup.

Protests away from home – at Union Berlin and Borussia Monchengladbach – have had little effect on the players. Leipzig is unpopular among rival fans due to its fast ascent financed since its foundation by energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull.

Nagelsmann is used to the animosity. Former club Hoffenheim was also unpopular due to its financial reliance on billionaire backer Dietmar Hopp, though not to the level of Leipzig, which has became a favored target for rival fans.

Nagelsmann has compared himself to Jurgen Klopp, saying it took three years for Klopp to win titles at Borussia Dortmund and then Liverpool.

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His goal is to do the same at Leipzig.

“Three years would be fine for all of us or even sooner. Four years would also be OK. Anyway, it would be great to do it and that’s my aim,” Nagelsmann said.

He can approach Saturday’s game relaxed knowing he has been given time to settle in at Leipzig.

“He doesn’t need to be nervous when there are one or two defeats,” Leipzig chairman Oliver Mintzlaff said before the season. “We know that it’s a new start and that there’s a certain settling in period as things adjust.”

Bayern counterpart Niko Kovac has had no such luxury, being under constant pressure since he took over the Bavarian powerhouse last year. Kovac had to dampen speculation over his future in the run up to Bayern’s 3-0 win over Leipzig in the German Cup final, and will be expected to do better after winning the league and cup double last season.

Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, who has been openly critical of Kovac at times, says he welcomes the competition that Leipzig has brought to the league.

“We’re always interested in competition for Bayern, because competition provides football with excitement and emotion. Leipzig is definitely one of the clubs that will establish itself at the top of the Bundesliga,” Rummenigge told Kicker magazine on Thursday.

But not just yet, he hopes.

“Our goal is to take over the league-lead with a win,” Rummenigge said.

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

Bayern grooms former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn as future CEO

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich is grooming former goalkeeper Oliver Kahn to be its future chairman and CEO.

The German champions said Friday that Kahn has been appointed to the executive board on a five-year contract starting in January. He won’t take over as chairman and CEO until Karl-Heinz Rummenigge’s contract expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness – who is also leaving the club soon – said the club picked Kahn for his mix of sports and business expertise.

Since retiring in 2008, the eight-time Bundesliga champion has studied for an MBA and started his own business, as well as working as a TV commentator.

“With an eye on the future, we are convinced that Oliver Kahn is the perfect solution,” Hoeness said in a statement. “Oliver Kahn knows football, he knows business, and he carries the DNA of FC Bayern. We are convinced that Oliver Kahn is the right man to lead FC Bayern into the future.”

Kahn joined Bayern from Karlsruher SC in 1994 and spent 14 years at the club, winning the Champions League in 2001. He made 86 appearances for Germany, winning the European Championship in 1996 and finishing runner-up at the World Cup in 2002.

Kahn was named the world’s Best Goalkeeper three times, European Goalkeeper of the Year four times and German Footballer of the Year twice.

“I am deeply connected with the club and it has decisively shaped my life,” said Kahn, adding it was “a great honor” to be appointed.

During his time as Bayern chairman, Rummenigge has been a key powerbroker in European soccer, heading the European Club Association from 2008-17.

Bayern announced on Thursday that Hoeness will not stand for re-election as president in November. Former Adidas chief executive Herbert Hainer is lined up as his successor.

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

Bayern unhappy with opponents’ rough style in Bundesliga

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BERLIN (AP) Bayern Munich wants more protection from referees.

The defending champions lost French midfielder Corentin Tolisso and Brazilian defender Rafinha to injuries sustained in last weekend’s win over Bayer Leverkusen. Both club president Uli Hoeness and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge have called for a reaction from the German soccer federation.

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“It can’t go on like this. Otherwise we won’t have any players after the 10th round or we won’t be able to get 11 players together,” Rummenigge said ahead of Saturday’s Bundesliga match against Schalke in Gelsenkirchen.

Tolisso was ruled out for several months after rupturing a cruciate ligament and the medial meniscus in his right knee, while Rafinha is out for several weeks with a partial tear of ligaments in his left ankle after a bad challenge from Karim Bellarabi, who was sent off.

Bellarabi, who apologized after the match, was subsequently banned for four games and fined 10,000 euros ($11,750).

After the game, Hoeness had called for Bellarabi to be banned for “three months – for stupidity.”

Bayern already lost French winger Kingsley Coman to injury in its first home game of the season, after which Rummenigge accused Hoffenheim of playing “football in a wild-west manner.”

Bayern coach Niko Kovac said his side was “fair game” for others to target with hard challenges.

It was different when Kovac was in charge of Eintracht Frankfurt from March 8, 2016, to June 30, 2018. No side committed more fouls per game (15.4) than Frankfurt in that time.

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Contrary to Bayern’s claims, both Kicker magazine and the Bild tabloid reported that promoted teams Nuremberg and Fortuna Duesseldorf, and Wolfsburg, all were fouled more the defending champions in the opening three games of the season.

Bayern’s 36 fouls is the same as Leipzig and Stuttgart, and its average of 12 per game is marginally below the average for last season.

Bayern’s players are more relaxed about the issue after winning their opening three league games and making winning starts in the German Cup and Champions League.

“I don’t think it’s so extreme,” Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich said.

On Saturday, the team can expect committed opponents again. Schalke, which finished runner-up last season, is looking for its first win after starting with three losses.

More AP Bundesliga coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Bayern Munich CEO “willing to bet” Lewandowski stays

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Calling Robert Lewandowski “probably the best No. 9 in Europe,” Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge tells Kicker the prolific Polish striker is not for sale.

Lewandowski has 32 goals in 37 matches this season including 23 in 25 Bundesliga matches, and has netted a wild 117 goals over his last three seasons with the Bavarian club.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ]

His international hot streak is even more impressive; Lewandowski went 67 minutes against Nigeria on March 23 in just his second goalless Poland appearance since June 2016. Overall, he’s netted 17 times in his last 12 caps.

Rummenigge says he’s willing to bet Lewandowski stays at Bayern next season, and wants to send the message that, “against the will of Bayern Munich nobody can buy a Bayern Munich player.”

Anyone want to take Rummenigge’s bet if the big dollars of Real Madrid do come calling?

Carlo Ancelotti out as Bayern Munich manager

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UPDATE: Bayern Munich have announced the club has “parted ways” with Ancelotti.

Bayern Munich has looked a shell of itself to start the 2017/18 season, and following Wednesday’s defeat to PSG the club could be in the market for a new manager.

Club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge called for “consequences” following the 3-0 loss at the Parc des Princes, and unfortunately for manager Carlo Ancelotti that could spell the end of his coaching tenure in the German capital.

[ MORE: Mourinho speaks following Man United’s win at CSKA ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Ancelotti has stepped down from his position at Bayern and that the news will likely come down on Thursday.

Ancelotti replaced now-Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola at Bayern ahead of the 2016/17 season, but despite winning the Bundesliga last season the German champions have started off slow.

“What we’ve seen tonight was not Bayern Munich,” Rummenigge said following Wednesday’s defeat.

German outlet Sport Bild first reported that a meeting would take place on Thursday, which could determine the future of Ancelotti.

If the current Bayern boss is in fact sacked, assistant coach Willy Sagnol would likely take over in the interim, although former Borussia Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel has also been linked with the job.

“It was a bitter defeat. One we must talk about. One we must analyse. And one from which we have to draw our consequences,” the Bayern CEO said. “What we’ve seen tonight was not Bayern Munich.”

“I believe that we can all agree on this,” Rummenigge continued. “It’s important we get our act together soon and show we are Bayern Munich, a team which has made a great stir in Europe and Germany in recent years.”

As it stands, Bayern is tied for second place in their UEFA Champions League group, while the Germans are third in the Bundesliga table through six rounds of play.