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Women’s Euro: Germany aiming for much more than the minimum against Russia

Germany go into their final Group B match at the Women's Euro in the Netherlands needing only a draw to qualify. However, coach Steffi Jones has made it clear that nothing less than a victory will be satisfactory. As is the case regarding most of their opponents, Germany's women have an overwhelmingly positive record against the Russians, who they face in their final group-stage game in Utrecht. The two teams have met each other in a total of 19 matches (including friendlies), with Germany winning 17 times, with two draws. This includes the two times the sides met in qualifying for this summer's tournament; a 4-0 win for Germany in Russia and a 2-0 win at home. A further measure of Germany's dominance is the fact that they have outscored Russia 67-8 in in those 19 contests. Despite their record against their final Group B opponents - and the fact that on four points from their first two matches, Germany only need a draw to advance - there appears to be little chance of any overconfidence as they head into Tuesday night's contest. Lack of finishing remains a concern While head coach Steffi Jones said she was happy with the result after Germany's 2-1 victory over Italy on Friday, she rightfully expressed more than a little concern about her team's finishing. It wasn't for a lack of chances that Germany weren't able to score more, having put 10 of their 25 total attempts on target. The Germans simply weren't clinical enough, having to rely on a goalkeeping error off a set piece and later a spot kick to get the two goals they needed. Jones wants more from her creative players, including newly crowned Germany Women's Footballer of the Year Dzenifer Marozsan, against Russia. "It's simply not enough. We have to score goals and work on our mistakes," the 44-year-old former national team defender said after the Italy match. "Otherwise it will be difficult to achieve our goal." Nothing but the title will do Germany of course will be satisfied with no less than a seventh-consecutive and ninth-overall women's European title, and despite their record against the Russians, they will be taking nothing for granted. "This will be a completely new match," German midfielder Kathrin Hendrich said in comments published on the German football association's (DFB) website. "We have to force our game on the Russians. There are no easy games at a European championship… We have to be more focused when we are in the final third of the pitch - to create scoring chances and put them away." Teammate Leonie Maier said she expected the Russians to be just as difficult to beat as the Italians were. Russia could potentially dump Germany out with a win, after defeating The Azzurri themselves in the opening group game. "If we want to leave the pitch as the victors we'll have to be wide awake from the first to the last minute and win the individual battles," the defender said. Asked whether the team was feeling the pressure over Germany's lack of dominance in their first two matches, Maier conceded that "a certain pressure is always present." But she also said she was confident that the team would come up with an improved performance on Tuesday evening in Utrecht. Putting a few goals past Russian goalkeeper Tatyana Shcherbak could go a long way to putting Steffi Jones' concerns to rest.

Germany go into their final Group B match at the Women’s Euro in the Netherlands needing only a draw to qualify. However, coach Steffi Jones has made it clear that nothing less than a victory will be satisfactory. As is the case regarding most of their opponents, Germany’s women have an overwhelmingly positive record against the Russians, who they face ... Read More »

Can Bayer Leverkusen progress after exodus of key players?

First Omer Toprak left Leverkusen, then Hakan Calhanoglu, now Chicharito. With other key men likely to follow them out, is there any hope that a club that's become a fixture in the top four can stop the rot next term? “It was not a difficult decision." Those were the words of Javier Hernandez (aka Chicharito) as he pulled on a West Ham shirt for the first time after completing his move back to England on Monday. He seemed to be referring mainly to the decision to join the London club rather than the one to leave the Werkself, but the sentiment seems applicable to both cases. The Mexican striker endured a difficult end to an otherwise prolific Bundesliga career, as the service dried up in a team desperately struggling to keep their heads above water. Leverkusen suffered through a desperate second half of the season, winning just four league games after the winter break until a cathartic 6-2 defeat of Hertha Berlin on the last day of the season, after safety was assured, gave them a measure of relief. That win also meant they finished 12th, a position that flattered a side that looked woeful under Roger Schmidt and even worse during the short-lived reign of Tayfun Korkut. It was all a far cry from Chicharito's debut campaign for the club, when he scored 17 times in 28 appearances and was the league's Player of the Month three times, as Leverkusen picked up the 'best of the rest' trophy behind Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund – about the best the other Bundesliga clubs can hope for these days. Where will the goals come from? But thoughts of challenging for even that dubious crown seem fanciful at this point. Chicharito may well have wanted out whatever happened but the departures of Calhanoglu, who provided a goal or assist every 110 minutes last term in an interrupted Bundesliga campaign, and Toprak – a defender good enough to step up a level to BVB - must have made him question the club's ambition. Of course, there's still plenty of time in the transfer window (though Leverkusen's first German Cup game is in a little over a fortnight) but Sven Bender and Dominik Kohr don't feel like upgrades. Bender may offer some defensive stability, which would be further enhanced if Jonathan Tah can regain fitness, but it's going forward that Leverkusen look set to struggle. No-one but Hernandez even reached double figures for goals in all competitions last term and removing Calhangolu from the equation as well means only Kevin Volland (9) and Joel Pohjanpalo (6) scored more than 4. It's no wonder new coach Heiko Herrlich, the club's eighth boss in nine years, has been preaching the virtues of teamwork over individuals. Teamwork the key for new boss "Hakan of course has huge quality, as do Kevin [Kampl, who has also asked to leave] and Chicharito," he told the Bundesliga website before the Chicharito deal went through. "But ultimately it’s important that the players that you have available identify 100 per cent with the club. Things will soon be clear - then we'll see more. "I think a club like Bayer Leverkusen will never find themselves depending on just one player. Chicharito has given great performances in his two years here, but so have many others. You can only achieve success as a team." Perhaps Herrlich will forge the collective identity that the side lacked last year, but even the hardest working sides need matchwinners. Leverkusen have become a fixture at the top end in recent years, never failing to finish outside the top 5 in the seven years before last. But with the emergence of Leipzig and Hoffenheim and even Hertha Berlin and Cologne starting to make small but significant strides, it's becoming more and more difficult to see a way back to the Champions League for a club who famously reached the final in 2002. Perhaps that's not the expectation anymore and perhaps they can hang on to a small but talented crop of youngsters – Tah, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz chief among them – and make progress that way. But, as Dortmund found out last term, losing three key players in one stroke is a difficult trick to pull.

First Omer Toprak left Leverkusen, then Hakan Calhanoglu, now Chicharito. With other key men likely to follow them out, is there any hope that a club that’s become a fixture in the top four can stop the rot next term? “It was not a difficult decision.” Those were the words of Javier Hernandez (aka Chicharito) as he pulled on a ... Read More »

Echoes of ‘92 as Denmark recall glory days

Tuesday night's friendly in Brondby was an experiment for Joachim Löw’s Germany team. But 25 years on from Denmark's most famous victory, the contest was a reminder of Danish glory and pride. With a well-earned 1-0 lead against Germany at halftime, the red-and-white-clad players walked off the field to thunderous applause. Yet the clapping quickly grew to roaring cheers as a group of middle-aged men briefly replaced them on the pitch. They are living Danish legends. 25 years ago, these same men won Denmark’s first and only major title: the 1992 European Championships in Sweden. Tuesday’s friendly commemorated the tournament’s final in which the Danish team shocked the world by beating the World Cup holders, Germany, 2-0. “The whole tournament was surreal, nobody expected anything from Denmark, it was a miracle,” said Patrick Hansen, a schoolteacher attending the game with a group of young students. Indeed, Denmark were lucky to be at the tournament at all after initially failing to qualify. But after Yugoslavia were excluded due to the ongoing conflict in the Balkans, Denmark, who had finished second in their qualifying group, took their place. Back then, Patrick was just 12 years old, the same age as most of his students today, as his country's team went from failed qualifiers to European champions in the space of a few weeks. But his students have not been so lucky - Denmark have never progressed further than a quarter-final and have failed to qualify for five major tournaments. Patrick and his class traveled about 500 kilometers on a field trip to Copenhagen. The schoolteacher then asked his students if they wanted to see “a bit of culture” and brought them to the match. “A lot of them know the story and obviously they’re not old enough to have experienced it themselves but they wanted to come and celebrate with us,” said Patrick. Lucky number 18? In the 1992 European Championship final, the Danes took the lead during the 18th minute after an unstoppable right-footed striker by John “Faxe” Jensen. In a similar fashion on Tuesday night, Christian Eriksen put Denmark in front. Coincidentally, his goal also came in the 18th minute. The goal, along with the hosts’ commemorative shirts with chevrons on the shoulders in the style of those Euro '92 kits, reminded the fans of past glory and the nostalgia inspired continuous chants. The number 18 has played a major role in for the Scandinavians. Even for schoolteacher Patrick, 18 was the number of the night as he needed 18 tickets at the last minute to take all of his students to the game. But he took a more proactive approach than just trying his luck. “I contacted the Danish Football Association on Twitter to see if there were any tickets available and they got straight back to me in about five minutes," he explained. "It was the perfect solution for us." Still reminiscing about the 1992 victory, Patrick and many fans at the Bronby stadium, as well as football romantics, hoped for a 2-0 win against an inexperienced German side – a repeat of the legendary final. However a late equalizer from Joshua Kimmich brought those dreams to an end. Still, a draw was enough for Patrick this time around. “I think it’s important that the Danish Football Association has tried to do something to raise team spirit surrounding the national team,” he said. The most important part was celebrating the time the Danish national team made him truly happy and passing that happiness along to the newer generation.

Tuesday night’s friendly in Brondby was an experiment for Joachim Löw’s Germany team. But 25 years on from Denmark’s most famous victory, the contest was a reminder of Danish glory and pride. With a well-earned 1-0 lead against Germany at halftime, the red-and-white-clad players walked off the field to thunderous applause. Yet the clapping quickly grew to roaring cheers as ... Read More »

Ronaldo double secures Real back-to-back Champions League titles

A Cristiano Ronaldo double saw Real Madrid crowned champions of Europe for the 12th time and become the first team to retain the Champions League. The Portuguese forward scored the first and third in a 4-1 win. Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Mandzukic 27' - Ronaldo 20', 64', Casemiro 61', Asensio 90') It could only be him. For all the greats of the game on the Cardiff pitch, there were times on Saturday night when the other 21 players felt like extras in the Cristiano Ronaldo story. He's got quite the scriptwriter. The competition's record goalscorer opened the scoring and added to it later on to extend his lead at the top of the all-time goalscoring list and ensure he finished the match as the most prolific man in the Champions League for the fifth season running. In between his brace, Juventus threatened Real's grip on a title they regard as their own thanks to an incredible Mario Mandzukic strike, before Casemiro restored the Spanish side's lead. An extended - and largely unwanted - performance from the Black Eyed Peas meant the teams were late in kicking off, but the Italians weren't slow to start once the match finally got under way. Former Real frontman Gonzalo Higuain was particularly bright early on, forcing Keylor Navas in to two saves in the first five minutes. The Costa Rican dealt with both comfortably and withstood a more severe examination shortly after, when he palmed away Miralem Pjanic's long-range drive. But this Madrid side are not easily daunted, and recovered from their shaky start with a sustained spell of possession. But the opener was all about one man – and his identity was no surprise. Ronaldo takes control Ronaldo picked up a ball deep in the Juventus half and drove at the Italian defense in a manner more reminiscent of the hard-running player he was than the high-end poacher he's become. He slipped the ball to Dani Carvajal on his right with body language that ensured the Spaniard knew he expected it back. Carvajal obliged and Ronaldo fired home, with the aid of a telling deflection, for his 11th Champions League goal this term. The Italians responded almost instantly with a goal more than fit for this grandest of occasions, though this time the identity of its scorer was less obvious. Alex Sandro burst down the left and was picked out by a raking crossfield ball. The Brazilian cushioned a volley inside to Higuain and the striker helped it on to Mario Mandzukic, who – with his back to goal – didn't seem to have much on. But the former Bayern Munich man wasn't prepared to let Ronaldo grab all the headlines yet again. He took the ball down on his chest before unleashing a spectacular overhead kick from just inside the box that dipped over Navas and restored parity to an open, engaging game. Fresh impetus after the break The second half began in cagier fashion than the first, with mistakes likely to have a higher cost with each passing minute. As the clock ticked down, the game began to fit the pattern predicted by so many in the build up, Real probed with the ball while Juve sat deep and soaked up the pressure. That meant there was space outside the box for Real's midfielders and, after Luka Modric tried his luck, Casemiro took aim from 30 yards out. The defensive midfielder's strike was firm and dipping but Gianluigi Buffon for once looked his age as it crept inside his left-hand post. Three minutes later, the great Italian keeper was beaten again, though there was little he could do with Real's third. Madrid broke quickly as Juve adjusted to being behind again and Luka Modric raced on to a ball down the right flank. The Croatian just kept it in play and had the composure to pick out Ronaldo. The Portuguese forward had run beyond the front post but clipped the ball beyond the keeper with an ease that belied the difficulty of the finish. Juventus had nothing left and when Juan Cuadrado was dismissed with a few minutes remaining, the Old Lady knew that the fat lady had sung. If they needed any further confirmation, they got it in the last minute of normal time, when Marco Asensio swept home Marcelo's low cross. For the eighth time in their history, Juventus were left contemplating a loss on the biggest stage of all. For Real, the celebrations were no less emphatic despite the familiarity of a third Champions League victory in the last four years. As it happened The Champions League final is here! The final game of the season. Juventus have won Serie A, Real Madrid have won La Liga. The Italians are going for the treble, the Spanish for a double. It's Ronaldo vs. Buffon, that attack vs. that defense, Zidane against his former team. It's going to be a very special night in Cardiff!

A Cristiano Ronaldo double saw Real Madrid crowned champions of Europe for the 12th time and become the first team to retain the Champions League. The Portuguese forward scored the first and third in a 4-1 win. Juventus 1-4 Real Madrid (Mandzukic 27′ – Ronaldo 20′, 64′, Casemiro 61′, Asensio 90′) It could only be him. For all the greats ... Read More »

Sweden beats Canada on penalties to win ice hockey world championships

Sweden has won the ice hockey world championships for the 10th time with a 2-1 victory over 2016 champions Canada. Sunday's final in the German city of Cologne was settled by a penalty shootout. At the end of regulation, Sweden and Canada were tied 1-1. Ryan O'Reilly had equalized for Canada at the end of three periods, after Victor Hedman had put Sweden ahead. There was no score in overtime and it was Sweden who held their nerve in the penalty shootout. Both Nicklas Backstorm and Oliver Ekman Larsson nailed their penalties for Sweden, to the delight of their travelling fans in Cologne, with Backstorm hitting the winning shot. Canada's quartet of O'Reilly, Nate Mackinnon, Brayden Point and Mitch Marner all failed with their penalty attempts, handing Sweden their first world title since 2013. Russia places third Earlier, Russia survived a late fightback by Finland as Nikita Kucherov sealed their 5-3 win to claim bronze. Russia raced into a 4-0 lead in the bronze-medal match with Nikita Gusev scoring twice, and Vladimir Tkachyov and Bogdan Kiselevich scoring one apiece.

Sweden has won the ice hockey world championships for the 10th time with a 2-1 victory over 2016 champions Canada. Sunday’s final in the German city of Cologne was settled by a penalty shootout. At the end of regulation, Sweden and Canada were tied 1-1. Ryan O’Reilly had equalized for Canada at the end of three periods, after Victor Hedman ... Read More »

For Marco Sturm, Germany are very much a work in progress

Germany made it to the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship for a second straight year, which would usually be regarded as a success. However, for coach and GM Marco Sturm, much work remains to be done. In the hours leading up to Germany's showdown with Canada, Marco Sturm insisted that the national team could not be satisfied with just having made it to the quarterfinals for the second year in succession since he took over as head coach and general manager in the summer of 2015. "In the past we were always happy when we made it to the quarterfinals. We have to stop this. We need to be hungry for more," Sturm told reporters. "We are not at the end of our journey," he added. Unfortunately for Sturm and his men, though, Canada spelled the end of Germany's journey at this world championship, cohosted by Cologne and Paris. However, it's clear that Sturm and his coaching staff had been looking beyond this tournament the whole time. Despite having led Germany out of the wilderness that followed the 2010 world championship, the last held on home ice, Sturm knows that a lot of work remains to be done, not just on the national team, but on German ice hockey in general. In the short term, he is happy with what his team has achieved. "At the end of the day, it was a good world championship for us. We got better from game to game, which is precisely what we aimed to do," he told reporters Thursday night. "The last two games were our best and, as an underdog, we reached the quarterfinals again. So I see this home world championship as very, very positive." Improvement needed at all levels Taking a broader view though, Sturm criticized at least indirectly the current level of play in Germany's top league, the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, from which the national team draws the bulk of its talent, saying too often that players were still making wrong decisions on the ice. "Unfortunately, it happens all too often that a player takes a different route than is called for in a given situation. In part, this has to do with our league," he said. "You can see the difference with teams like Canada and Russia. Their players play in the best leagues in the world and they have to do this on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this is not the case with us. This is the main difference." Previously, Sturm has spoken about the fact that Germany still has a lot to do to improve its youth hockey program, and this he also touched on, on Thursday night. "We just have to keep working at it, especially at the youth level, at the clubs, but also in the DEL. We all just have to do a better job," he said, without getting into specifics. Contract runs out in less than a year So from his point of view, Germany, on different levels, are very much a work in progress, and there is no doubt that most of the players and indeed the German hockey association (DEB) hope that Sturm will be the guy to direct that focus for some time to come. How long he will be there, though, is not clear. His contract runs through the 2018 Winter Olympics next February and DEB President Franz Reindl has said that the association certainly wants to renew it, but as for Sturm, he is non-committal. "I am open to it. I really enjoy working with the lads, the 38-year-old former NHL star said. But he also said he hadn't really thought about it yet. "That's still too far off in the future," he said.

Germany made it to the quarterfinals of the ice hockey world championship for a second straight year, which would usually be regarded as a success. However, for coach and GM Marco Sturm, much work remains to be done. In the hours leading up to Germany’s showdown with Canada, Marco Sturm insisted that the national team could not be satisfied with ... Read More »

Ethics prosecutor, judge call their removal a setback for FIFA

The FIFA ethics investigator and judge who have been effectively been dismissed by football's world governing body have described this as detrimental to the organization. The decision is to be made official on Thursday. The outgoing FIFA ethics investigator, Cornel Borbely and the ethics judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert expressed their concerns at a hastily organized press conference in Manama, where the FIFA Congress is to convene on Thursday. Borbely told reporters that his removal together with Eckert's effective dismissal, amounted to the "end of the reform process," which had started with the election ofFIFA President Gianni Infantinoat a Congress in Zurich in February 2016, where a package of new regulations was also passed, aimed at making football's governing body more transparent. "As it seems now, the work of the ethics committee was inconvenient for functionaries, for FIFA officials. "The removal of the ethics committee is not in FIFA's best interests... and it's a setback for the fight against corruption," Borbely said. Unclear where investigations will continue The Swiss lawyer also said that the move came as the "several hundred" investigations into alleged corruption were ongoing and that it was not clear whether these would continue to be pursued following their removal. He added that there would be no transition to a new ethics leadership team, and that apart from him and Eckert, the personnel in both chambers would be new, with "the most experienced prosecutors and judges gone." He also predicted that "it won't get any easier for FIFA" as the personnel changes will also be followed closely by the investigating authorities in the US and Switzerland. Critics of the FIFA president have said that they believe Infantino could have a personal motive to replace the prosecutor and the judge after they launched an investigation into possible offences related to flights he had taken on private jets, as well as his hiring practices. Last August, FIFA's Ethics Committee cleared the president of any wrongdoing. 'Not a great day for soccer' Eckert, a German judge, is the man who opened proceedings against former longtime FIFA President Sepp Blatter and former UEFA President Michel Platini in November 2015, which eventually led to both of them being replaced. "It's not a great day for FIFA" Eckert said. "The loser is soccer, because trying to get a good, honest FIFA now it's very difficult. The loser is soccer, not me." Both men said they had not been officially notified about their removal and only found out via their "mobile phones" when they landed in Bahrain on Tuesday evening. "I would like to have an explanation," Eckert said. The two men were speaking a day after the news broke that the powerful FIFA Council had recommended that the FIFA Council not re-elect Borbely and Eckert to their posts. Both of their four-year terms are set to expire. Instead, it recommended that Eckert be replaced by Vassilios Skouris of Greece and Borbely's post be given to Colombian prosecutor Maria Claudia Rojas. Skouris is a former president of the European Court of Justice.

The FIFA ethics investigator and judge who have been effectively been dismissed by football’s world governing body have described this as detrimental to the organization. The decision is to be made official on Thursday. The outgoing FIFA ethics investigator, Cornel Borbely and the ethics judge, Hans-Joachim Eckert expressed their concerns at a hastily organized press conference in Manama, where the ... Read More »

Champions League preview: Lewandowski to return for Bayern as Real’s Bale is ruled out

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich's hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng will be fit. Lewandowksi, whose absence was felt when Bayern slumped to defeat by Real, is back in training after suffering a shoulder injury against Borussia Dortmund last week. The Pole was suspended for Saturday's Bundesliga stalemate at Leverkusen. "We know how good a player Lewandowski is, he is a true No.9," said Real coach Zinedine Zidane. That is a plus for Bayern [that he should return].” Lewandowski has scored 38 goals in 40 appearances this season but Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro says they are wary of Bayern's whole team, not just their center forward. "Lewandowski is a quality player but it's not all about him," said Casemiro. "They've got a brilliant squad. We'll need to be at our best and not just focused on one man." The striker should be joined by first choice defensive pair Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng, but both face a race against time to be fit. Hummels has an ankle injury that kept him out of the first leg and Boateng missed the Leverkusen game with an adductor injury. "There'll be a test on Monday night," Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said before the team departed for Madrid on Monday. "Everything went well on Sunday in training with Hummels and Boateng. Lewandowski was even training with the team. We have to wait. At the end of the day, we're not so pessimistic." And with Javi Martinez suspended after his red card in the first leg, Carlo Ancelotti will be desperate for both players to be fit. If Hummels or Boateng don't make it, and emergency defensive pairing of Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba could be required. Bale absence will hamper Real Real Madrid go into the second leg as clear favorites to progress, knowing that even a 1-0 defeat in the Spanish capital will see them through. But Zidane's side have been dealt a blow with the news that Gareth Bale will miss the return leg at the Bernabeu. The Welshman has a muscle injury in his right leg and Zidane, while wanting to bring him back, says he will not rush the star forward back to action. Zidane's thinking is clearly influenced by El Clasico against Barcelona, on Sunday. "He will not play because we don't want to take any risks," Zidane said on Monday. "He wants to come back, he has been working hard. Hopefully he will be back for the Clasico but it's not certain yet. We will see how he progresses day by day." Spain attacking midfielder Isco, who scored twice, including a last minute winner, in Madrid's 3-2 win over Sporting Gijon on Saturday, is likely to replace Bale – but Zidane was keep his cards close to his chest. "That Isco has not played much time in the Champions League is just coincidence, there is nothing else," Zidane said. "It looks tough for him, just 77 minutes, it's not much. But we have many games, many competitions, and we will see tomorrow what will happen.” Overcoming the odds Only twice in Champions League history has a team overhauled a first-leg home defeat to win the tie. The second of those occasions was against Bayern, who let a first leg lead slip against Internazionale in 2010/11. The odds are clearly against Bayern, but there is hope for them. An early goal would give Bayern the perfect platform to take the game to Real, who are unbeaten in Europe's elite club competition this season. In fact, they've failed to win only once in their last 10 Champions League games – 2-2 at Borussia Dortmund in the group stage. But Bayern midfielder Xabi Alonso, who will be playing his last ever Champions League game if Bayern go out, is confident that the Bundesliga leaders can turn it around against his former club. "We are Bayern, we know how to do it," Alonso told El Pais when he was asked his thoughts on a comeback. "We know how competitive Real Madrid are going to be and I also know the Bernabeu in these qualifiers, and the atmosphere will be a great night." "With Madrid you can't think too much about them because there is so much talent and they can score from anywhere. In addition to playing well, you have to be lucky and hope they don't have their day." Bayern will be hoping luck is on their side on Tuesday evening.

We look ahead to the second part of the heavyweight contest between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, who will be boosted by the return of star striker Robert Lewandowski from injury as they look to overturn a 2-1 deficit. Bayern Munich’s hopes of overturning a 2-1 deficit from the quarterfinal first leg against Real Madrid rest on whether Robert Lewandowski, ... Read More »

Champions League: Dortmund out to ‘score as many goals as possible’ against Monaco

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB's Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five weeks out with a muscle tear, BVB star Marco Reus could be set to make his return as the Black and Yellows look to bounce back from Saturday's chastening 4-1 defeat to Bayern Munich. "Sometimes it's best not to dwell too long on results like that," coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters at the prematch press conference on Monday. "Bayern were on another level to us and we don't need 20 replays to show us that." Dortmund were forced to travel to Munich with a severely depleted squad after midfielders Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa both picked up knocks last week, but both are back in training and should return to action against Monaco. Lukas Piszceck, who remained on the bench as a precaution against Bayern, is also set to start with Dortmund likely to revert to a back four. Longer-term absentees André Schürrle, Erik Durm and Mario Götze are still out. "We're confident that Weigl, Kagawa and Piszczek will be fit," said Tuchel. "Marco [Reus] trained yesterday and will again tomorrow. Then we'll decide if he's ready or not. Given our injury situation, it could be more likely he'll be involved, or at least in the dressing room." Attack, attack, attack In Dortmund and Monaco, the draw will see two of the most exciting young teams in Europe go head to head. Dortmund overcame a 0-1 deficit by hammering Benfica 4-0 in the last round. The Monegasques, three points clear of champions PSG at the top of Ligue 1, have already scored an incredible 130 goals in all competitions this season, including 88 in the league - more than any team in Europe's top four domestic leagues. "Monaco have many top players," Tuchel said. "They have outstanding talent both individually and as a team. It's difficult to pick out one single player." "We'll practise combatting Monaco's strengths but we want to concentrate on our own strengths and score as many goals as possible with our fans behind us." Dortmund are not short of firepower themselves. Only Bayern have scored more goals in the Bundesliga this season while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Ousmane Dembelé, Christian Pulisic and co. found the net a record 21 times in this season's Champions League group stage. Nevertheless, captain Marcel Schmelzer (29) believes that defense is what will decide this tie. "It's a 50-50 battle," Schmelzer said in comments published in Monday's edition of German football magazine "Kicker." "Both teams like to attack but we have to make sure we defend better with more intelligence and more ruthlessness. We know Monaco score a lot of goals but big victories and titles are won based on a well-functioning defense. Our defenders have more international experience - we have to use this to our advantage." French national team coach Didier Deschamps agreed, writing in the same publication that he expected an "offensive spectacle." "Both teams rely on youth, pace and attacking football and make the most of their forwards' individual qualities," he said. "But the key will be elsewhere. The team who defend best will progress." Defense will be key Left back Schmelzer had a torrid time against Bayern winger Arjen Robben on Saturday and knows he will have to up his game against one of Europe's most formidable attacks. In striker Kylian Mbappé (18), winger Thomas Lemar (21) and full back Bemjamin Mendy (22), this Monaco side features some of French football's hottest young talents. Experienced Colombian striker Radamel Falcao also returned from a four-week layoff at the weekend, scoring the only goal as Monaco beat Angers 1-0. Fortunately for Dortmund, key midfield powerhouse Tiemoué Bakayoko will miss the first leg through suspension and could be replaced by Portuguese international Joao Moutinho. Marauding right back Djibril Sidibé is also set to miss out with an appendix problem. Monaco's three away goals in their 5-3 first-leg defeat at the hands of Manchester City in the previous round ultimately proved decisive in the second leg and Leonardo Jardim will be expecting his team to take at least one away goal back to the principality this time as well. Dortmund have been guilty of wasting chances this season but they cannot afford to do so if they are to progress in the Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund are set to host Monaco in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal tie. BVB’s Marco Reus could be set to make his return against the high-scoring French side. Borussia Dortmund welcome French league leaders Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday night for the first leg of a hotly anticipated Champions League quarterfinal. After five ... Read More »

Garcia grabs US Masters in playoff

Sergio Garcia has won the US Masters at the first playoff hole in Augusta. The Spaniard has finally landed his first major title. Garcia nudged out England's Justin Rose, who also finished on nine under par at the end of the fourth round on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. Garcia birdied the first playoff hole and Rose made bogey, after his tee shot bounced out onto pine straw near the fairway while Garcia found the fairway. "It’s been such a long time coming," Garcia said after the win. "I felt the calmest I’ve ever felt on a major Sunday today. Even after making bogey I was positive, I still believed. I hit some good shots, and I’m so happy.” The two had started on Sunday as co-leaders, before Garcia took a three-stroke lead after five holes. Rose then came back with three straight birdies starting on the sixth. Garcia bogeyed the first two holes on the back nine, but got back within one stroke with a birdie on the 14th. Rose birdied the 16th, but on the 17th he bogeyed after Garcia had missed an easy birdie putt. They both missed birdie putts on the 18th to finish 72 holes at 9-under. Garcia's win comes after 73 failed attempts to win the 81st Masters on his 37th birthday and what would have been the 60th birthday of his idol, two-time Masters champion and three-time (British) Open winner Seve Ballesteros, who died of brain cancer in 2011 at age 54. Garcia has won over 20 international tournaments and has spent much of his career in the top 10 of the Official World Golf Ranking, reaching a career high ranking of second in 2008. He has finished a runner-up on four occasions, twice at the (British) Open and twice at the PGA Championship, with a further six top five finishes without breaking through. This was the first major playoff for Rose while Garcia had lost his only prior major playoff to Ireland's Padraig Harrington in the 2007 Open.

Sergio Garcia has won the US Masters at the first playoff hole in Augusta. The Spaniard has finally landed his first major title. Garcia nudged out England’s Justin Rose, who also finished on nine under par at the end of the fourth round on Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. Garcia birdied the first playoff hole and Rose made bogey, after his ... Read More »

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