WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) Wolfsburg maintained its unbeaten start to the Bundesliga with a 1-1 draw against Hoffenheim on Monday.
Sebastian Rudy scored his first goal for Hoffenheim since returning from Schalke to put the visitors ahead in the sixth minute, but Wout Weghorst set up Admir Mehmedi with a backheel for the equalizer in the 36th.
It was Wolfsburg’s third consecutive 1-1 draw, dropping the side to eighth after five rounds, while Hoffenheim moved into 11th with five points.
Unbeaten Leipzig leads with 13 points after a 3-0 win at Werder Bremen on Saturday, while Bayern Munich is two points behind after its 4-0 win over Cologne. Borussia Dortmund is three points off the lead after a 2-2 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.
Gonzalo Higuain has been linked with a move to Chelsea almost all winter, and all signs point to a move away from the San Siro any day now. The 31-year-old striker was left out of the AC Milan squad to take on Genoa on Monday, the most recent sign of his imminent departure.
In his pre-match press conference, Milan manager Gennaro Gattuso spoke about the likely move, saying angrily, “I spoke in my office with Higuain and it is right to leave him out. We are still waiting on the move and there’s nothing completed but I want to see people who are mentally ready and available and if I don’t get that, I’ll go into battle with those who are more prepared.”
Chelsea has had trouble finding a productive striker of late, with Alvaro Morata benched for poor performance. With Olivier Giroud injured and inconsistent, Maurizio Sarri has utilized Eden Hazard as a false nine, and the result has been just five goals over the last six matches across all competitions.
Manchester City is reportedly looking to find a player to back up defensive midfielder Fernandinho, and the name mentioned is Schalke’s Sebastian Rudy.
The 28-year-old German arrived at Schalke from Bayern Munich this past summer, but has logged just 644 league minutes. While Rudy likely wouldn’t find the starting lineup more often at the Etihad, Pep Guardiola is known for his effective player rotation at Man City, and the club could tempt him with a title race.
Fernandinho has been one of the world’s best defensive midfielders over the past few years, but with the Brazilian on the sideline for two matches earlier this season, Manchester City dropped both games and slipped behind Liverpool in the title race. Center-back John Stones was utilized in the defensive midfield role in Fernandinho’s absence, but Crystal Palace and Leicester City scored a combined five goals.
According to multiple reports in England, a short-term loan would be effective in giving Fernandinho cover for the rest of the season as City looks to catch up with Liverpool and hold of Tottenham, Chelsea, and Arenal.
Arsenal fans were put on alert with Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti in attendance at the Emirates for Arsenal’s win over Chelsea. The French defender is currently injured, and with Barcelona playing on Sunday, Umtiti was able to make his way to England and watch his countrymates Laurent Koscielny and Alexandre Lacazette.
It would be highly unlikely for Umtiti to move this winter, as he is vitally important to the Barcelona squad and is out injured for another few weeks due to a long-term knee problem. It’s plausible Arsenal could make a play over the summer, but given how Barcelona’s defense has sagged in his absence, it’s unlikely the La Liga leaders would be willing to let him go. Umtiti’s contract with Barcelona runs through the summer of 2023, so he is under clear club control for the time being.
Rumblings in England have suggested that Tottenham defender and American international Cameron Carter-Vickers could leave Spurs this winter after the club has decided the 21-year-old will not break into the first team. According to a report by TeamTalk.com, Wigan Athletic could be in play for a permanent move for Carter-Vickers, who is currently on loan at Swansea City, but has struggled for playing time with the Championship club.
The American was also linked with Ipswich Town earlier this January, although that was mentioned as another loan. Either way, it sounds increasingly likely that Spurs could recall Carter-Vickers and look for a new club to deploy him at this winter.
With the ball dribbling free well outside the box, the Bayern Munich midfielder pounced a put all his weight behind an utter RIP, blasting a howitzer into the top-right corner with stunning precision accuracy.
It took 22 appearances, but Rudy picked up his first international goal in stunning fashion. The strike got things going for Germany, who were dominant in the match as they held 73% possession and led 3-0 before a stoppage-time consolation goal for the hosts.
Sandro Wagner scored a curler in the 26th minute to double Germany’s lead, with the shot splitting a pair of defenders on its way in. 22-year-old Josh Kimmich scored a volley from a ridiculously tight angle with time winding down, a strike that deserved applause of its own. All told, Germany bossed the match and looked more and more like the best team in the world.
Not that it was ever in doubt, but Germany will officially have the opportunity to defend its crown as they qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with a 3-1 victory over Northern Ireland.
Sebastian Rudy scored an absolute howitzer from extremely far out just two minutes into the game, and that set the tone as the Germans controlled 74% of the possession to ease their way through. Sandro Wagner struck in the 21st minute and young Josh Kimmich finished things off for the Germans with four minutes left in regulation, while Northern Ireland grabbed a consolation in stoppage time through Charlton striker Josh Magennis.
Germany tops Group C by eight points with still one match remaining, while Northern Ireland has secured the second spot, leaving them likely to make the playoff round on 13 points.
England 1-0 Slovakia
Harry Kane continued his blistering form, smashing England into the 2017 World Cup with one swift boot four minutes into stoppage time to give his country a thrilling 1-0 victory at home. Kyle Walker stole the ball with the visitors switched off as time ran down, and he crossed to his Spurs teammate Kane who beat Meha Mevlja in the box to poke home.
The home side was poor at times, holding 67% possession but only putting five shots on target of their 17 attempts on net.
The result leaves England six points clear at the top of Group F with one match remaining, locking them into the top spot. Scotland, Slovakia, and Slovenia will now all duke it out for a second place finish.
Scotland 1-0 Slovakia
Scotland picked up an absolutely massive goal as they chase a playoff spot. Derby County striker Chris Martin, a second-half substitute, forced a Martin Skrtel own-goal in the 89th minute, giving Scotland all three points and putting them in pole position for the 2nd spot in Group F.
Slovakia had been playing a man down since the 23rd minute when Robert Mak was sent off for a second yellow, correctly booked for a pathetic dive in the box under no contact. Still, the hosts were unable to grab control of the match, finishing with just 50% of the possession despite the long man advantage. Eventually, the ball came down the right flank and great work by Leigh Griffiths to keep play alive despite going to ground allowed Ikechi Anya to cross the ball for Martin on the doorstep, and his pressure saw the ball cut off the sliding Skrtel into the back of the net.
The win puts Scotland into 2nd place in Group F, two points above their opponents Slovakia and three above Slovenia with one match to go. They face Slovenia in the final round and do not have a goal differential advantage, so only a win would ensure them a spot in the playoff round.
Armenia 1-6 Poland
Poland moved onto the doorstep of automatic qualification as they pummeled Armenia 6-1. Robert Lewandowski scored a hat-trick and got help from Jakub Blaszczykowski, Kamil Glick, and Rafal Wolski to pile it on. The win puts Poland three points ahead of Denmark with one to play, although the teams are even on goal differential, so there could be some final day drama should Poland suffer an unlikely slip against Montenegro.
Montenegro 0-1 Denmark
Denmark kept pace with Poland at the top of Group E, leaving them three points back of the top spot heading in to the final day. It wasn’t as comfortable as it could have been, but an early Christian Eriksen (who else?) goal in the 16th minute saw them through. It was a superb goal, if not glittery, as Eriksen was under pressure from three defenders but surprised goalkeeper Danijel Petkovíc with the shot as it slid by for the lead and eventual winner.
While they’re three back of the automatic qualifying spot, Denmark will also be looking over its shoulder, as Montenegro sits three back of them and two back in goal differential, and playing for their World Cup lives in the final game.
MUNICH (AP) German champion Bayern Munich has signed center half Niklas Suele and central midfielder Sebastian Rudy from Hoffenheim, with both players due to complete the season with their current club before joining on July 1.
“Signing two Germany internationals is an investment in FC Bayern’s future,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said. “Sebastian Rudy joins us on a free transfer. In the case of Niklas Suele we have reached a fair and serious agreement with Hoffenheim.”
The 26-year-old Rudy has played 177 league games for Hoffenheim since joining from Stuttgart in 2010, while the 21-year-old Suele is a homegrown talent and has made 90 league appearances with the club.
“In terms of it being a farewell I feel a little wistful,” Suele said on Bayern’s website, adding that the move gives him the chance of “maturing further with one of the best teams in the world.”
Suele’s signing appears to be linked to the form of long-serving Bayern defender Holger Badstuber, who has been sent on loan to Schalke to get more game time.
The long-serving center-back has struggled with injuries in recent years and is not in Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, having played only three games this season, starting just once.