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Man City slumps to home loss vs. Lyon

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  • Cornet, Fekir score
  • City sloppy in midfield
  • Sane-inspired comeback bid falls short

Maxwel Cornet and Nabil Fekir scored first half goals as Lyon stunned Manchester City 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League.

Leroy Sane set up Bernardo Silva to pull a goal back for Man City, but the second did not arrive for the hosts.

Man City is off to Hoffenheim next on Oct. 2, when Lyon will host Shakhtar Donetsk.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

City had a lot of the ball, but a giveaway at midfield helped Lyon go on top.

Kyle Walker didn’t close down his mark on the left, Ederson was slow in acting on the cross, and Fabian Delph made a laughable mess of defending it.

The ball fell to Cornet, who left little doubt with a drive inside the far post.

City was denied an Ilkay Gundogan equalizer when assist man Raheem Sterling was inches offside.

And the hosts took a 2-0 deficit to the locker room with more poor midfield play, with Fekir blasting a Fernandinho giveaway past Ederson.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Anthony Lopes made a fine stop on Gundogan as City pushed to get back into the game.

Mikel Arteta opted for Leroy Sane off the bench as suspended manager Pep Guardiola watched from the stands.

A counter attack nearly saw the score line balloon to 3-0, but Memphis Depay‘s clever bid was touched by Ederson before hitting the post and bounding in front of the line.

Sane was the provider on City’s strike back into the contest, as he cut back for Bernardo to finish.

Riyad Mahrez sent a cross into the box that Sane couldn’t turn on goal, and it remained 2-1 as the 84th minute began in Manchester.

Ederson had another timely intervention on Memphis in the 89th minute to keep City alive.

Sergio Aguero tried to put the game on his back in the 90th, but his shot was touched out for a corner.

Celtic sells $23m Dembele to Lyon ahead of Old Firm match

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The Old Firm Derby will have a new feel on Sunday, relatively speaking, after Celtic announced it will not keep hold of Moussa Dembele, the electric attacker who scored seven goals in eight matches against Rangers.

The 22-year-old is off to Lyon, netting Brendan Rodgers‘ side $23 million. Celtic signed Dembele on a free transfer.

[ PL PREVIEW: Leicester vs. Liverpool ]

Dembele left Fulham for Celtic in 2016, helping the Bhoys to a pair of Scottish crowns while scoring 46 goals with 18 assists.

Rodgers was not excited to announce the sale. From CelticFC.net:

“It is vital to make clear that we have never promised any player that he can leave the Club at a particular time. It has never happened. In fact, we have said all along that we did not wish to sell Moussa, given the circumstances within the transfer window and that is why we rejected a significant offer yesterday.

“However, this particular decision to accept this offer has been taken in order to serve the best interests of the first-team squad, my coaching team and the culture and environment we have created in these last two seasons.

Celtic will enter the derby one point ahead of Rangers and three behind leaders Aberdeen. They signed former West Brom man Youssouf Mulumbu and Leicester City’s Filip Benkovic on loan.

Rangers have flipped their roster under Steven Gerrard, with Roma’s Umar Sadiq and Liverpool’s Ovie Ejaria and Ryan Kent on loan. Rangers also bought Hearts’ Kyle Lafferty.

Mariano returns to Real Madrid, reportedly with No. 7 shirt

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Real Madrid has brought Mariano Diaz back to town.

Mariano’s been at the Bernabeu before, and he’s fairly excited about his return… as the new No. 7, according to Goal.

[ MORE: Vinicius Junior loan? ]

That’s a heavy weight at Real, where Cristiano Ronaldo has had a bit of success with the digit on his back.

The 25-year-old played thrice for Lyon this season, not scoring, but bagged 21 with seven assists in 45 appearances last season.

He cost Lyon around $10 million last summer. No fee has been reported for this deal.

Mariano was capped by the Dominican Republic in 2013 and scored in his lone match, but has since shelved his tenure with the CONCACAF side in order to leave himself available to Spain.

Nabil Fekir’s move from Lyon to Liverpool falls through

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LYON, France (AP) — France forward Nabil Fekir’s move from Lyon to Champions League runner-up Liverpool fell through on Saturday.

Lyon said in a brief statement it decided to “end negotiations.”

The 24-year-old Fekir reportedly had his medical with a view to a move for $77 million, plus eventual bonuses.

Even though Lyon said joining Liverpool was Fekir’s “priority,” the seven-time French champion was “delighted” to count on him for next season.

Fekir had a fine season, scoring 18 league goals as Lyon finished third to qualify for the Champions League playoffs.

A product of Lyon’s successful youth academy, the skillful forward has 58 goals in 161 games for Lyon. He is in France’s World Cup squad.

How would Liverpool line up with Fekir? And can they catch Man City?

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Liverpool’s attack has not been questioned much, and for good reason, but the addition of Nabil Fekir asks two big questions.

  1. Is his playmaking ability in the center of the park, combined with Fabinho and Naby Keita behind him, enough to push Liverpool to Manchester City’s level?
  2. Is he enough to lead Jurgen Klopp to abandon a 4-3-3 that served him so following the sale of Philippe Coutinho?

First things first, Fekir is a great get. Even coming off a career year that begs a comparison to Liverpool selling high on Coutinho, this is a nice add for the Reds.

[ MORE: PST talks with Omar Gonzalez ]

Fekir brings a silky skill set and a very good 85 percent pass completion rate given he plays in an advanced part of the pitch and takes a lot of audacious chances will the ball. Eighteen league goals and eight assists are no jokes, either.

He was, however, deployed in a manner inconsistent with how Jurgen Klopp uses his midfielders in a 4-3-3. Fekir played a lot in the 4-2-3-1, a formation Klopp stopped using after the sale of Philippe Coutinho.

In fact, when Lyon boss Bruno Génésio opted for a 4-3-3, it was usually because Fekir was injured or unavailable. Génésio used Fekir once as a right wing in the 4-3-3, and twice as a right central midfielder in an inverted triangle. One time, they beat PSG. Conversely, they also lost to Bordeaux.

Klopp could easily opt to go back to a 4-2-3-1, especially with more safety in defensive midfield thanks to the arrivals of Fabinho and Naby Keita (It’s also worth noting that the trio combined for 23 yellow cards and two red cards last season, so Liverpool could set some sort of record there).

Liverpool used a 4-3-3 in all four of their meetings with Man City last season, the only loss coming when the Reds had 10 men. City used a 4-3-3 twice against Liverpool, a 3-1-4-2 in the 5-0 win, an a 3-5-2 when chasing the second leg of the UEFA Champions League tie.

The Reds had so much success in the 4-3-3 late last season, and especially against City, even if the formation was demanded largely due to injury. Klopp will probably use both, but perhaps it’s best to expect a lot more 4-2-3-1.

And it would probably look like this:

— Karius —

— Alexander-Arnold — Matip — Van Dijk — Robertson —

— Fabinho — Keita —

— Salah — Fekir — Mane —

— Firmino —

That is a very good lineup, and it’s unreasonable to think any of the players take a dramatic step back next season.

But going to a 4-3-3 with Fekir in the center of the park is not a formation I’d hazard against Man City. And using Fekir on the wing means benching Sadio Mane (likely to use Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Keita on top of Fabinho).

As good as Man City was last season, it’s difficult to believe they are going to find another 100-point season. Bounces alone should knock them down to 95. Can the Reds be 15-20 points better?

It’s possible, sure, but don’t forget that City is going to be improved by familiarity with the system alone (not to mention additions like (probably) Riyad Mahrez).

Is it August yet? Oh yeah, we’ve got a World Cup first.

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