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German Cup: Borussia Dortmund march into semifinals with victory in Stuttgart

Goals from Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan send Dortmund into the semifinals for the third successive season. But the yellow-and-blacks had to do it the hard way against a resurgent Stuttgart. Stuttgart 1-3 Borussia Dortmund (Rupp 20' - Reus 4', Aubameyang 30', Mkhitaryan 89') Last season's defeated finalists Borussia Dortmund are in the semifinals of the German Cup following a dogged 3-1 win at in-form Stuttgart. Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored either side of Lukas Rupp's equalizer to give Thomas Tuchel's side a slender lead at the break. Stuttgart were a constant threat and were unfortunate not to earn extra-time. Dortmund missed a handful of chances in the second half, but eventually added a third through Henrikh Mkhitaryan with two minutes to play. Given Stuttgart's impressive revival under Kramny, Tuchel's side could have hardly wished for a better start, taking the lead after four minutes. Aubameyang picked out Reus from the right-wing and the German attacker timed his run to perfection at the back-post to cushion home his second goal of the calendar year. A large chunk of Dortmund's travelling supporters waited until the 18th minute before taking their seat in protest at high ticket pricing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. It's the latest in a wave of protests from Dortmund supporters and the "Kein Zwanni" movement, which follows action led by Liverpool fans in England this weekend. Test of character After just two minutes of action, they watched on as Stuttgart equalized with a deflected strike from former Paderborn midfielder Rupp. The protests continued five minutes later when the visiting fans hurled tennis balls on to the field forcing a small stoppage. A minute after the restart, Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan combined as Dortmund passed up a chance to take the lead. But the impressive Reus was at the heart of Dortmund's second in the 30th minute and returned the favor for Aubameyang with an incisive pass. The Gabon international showed great poise and control under pressure before he fired home his 30th goal in 31 competitive games this season. On 54 minutes, Aubameyang, named Africa's Footballer of the Year, was denied brilliantly by former Dortmund keeper Mitch Langerak who made his debut for Stuttgart after joining last summer. A one-touch, clean passing move involving Rupp and Artem Kravets set up Daniel Didavi on the hour mark, but the midfielder's left-foot strike curled wide of Roman Bürki's post. Didavi wasted another chance a few minutes later before Christian Gentner passed up a chance from close range. The end-to-end nature of this game meant either side could have earned the decisive third goal. On 66 minutes, a combination of Mkhitaryan, Reus and Aubameyang couldn't force the ball past Langerak. Mkhitaryan's point-blank header on 74 minutes was blocked by Georg Niedermeier. But with Stuttgart throwing the kitchen sink towards Dortmund's goal, the visitors wrapped up a place in the semifinal draw with Mkhitaryan converting on the counterattack following good work from Aubameyang.

Goals from Reus, Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan send Dortmund into the semifinals for the third successive season. But the yellow-and-blacks had to do it the hard way against a resurgent Stuttgart. Stuttgart 1-3 Borussia Dortmund (Rupp 20′ – Reus 4′, Aubameyang 30′, Mkhitaryan 89′) Last season’s defeated finalists Borussia Dortmund are in the semifinals of the German Cup following a dogged ... Read More »

Augsburg boss concerned about Bundesliga’s ’50+1′ rule amid Premier League boom

Klaus Hofmann has expressed grave concerns for the Bundesliga due to the growing influence of new money in English football. The Augsburg president believes Germany's '50 +1' rule will eventually be abolished. FC Augsburg President Klaus Hofmann has admitted that he is concerned about the future of Germany's current model of club ownership. The widely-praised 50+1 regulation which guarantees that supporters maintain majority control of their football clubs has been under-threat in recent seasons. Just three Bundesliga clubs are exempt from the rule: Bayer Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg. The former and the latter are subsidiaries of Bayer and Volkswagen respectively, the two companies establishing interest in their clubs for more than 25 years. When asked about the record TV deal about to kick-in for the English Premier League clubs at the Sport Business Conference in Düsseldorf on Monday, Hofmann said that, "we'll get through the next three years. Should it go longer than three, it will have major consequences." He added: "Certainly the cry for the abolition of 50+1 could get louder because we no longer have any teams that can win anything in Europe other than Bayern and Dortmund. And I fear that step-by-step, we will bid farewell to 50´+1." Hofmann's words of warning come despite the fact that his club, Augsburg, have made great strides in recent years, gaining promotion to the second division in 2006 and making the step up to the Bundesliga five years later. Now they are in the UEFA Europa League, where later this month they are to face Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool in the round of 32. "By qualifying for the group phases, we've left a footprint in Europe. Not many people had heard of Augsburg a few years ago," Hofmann noted.

Klaus Hofmann has expressed grave concerns for the Bundesliga due to the growing influence of new money in English football. The Augsburg president believes Germany’s ’50 +1′ rule will eventually be abolished. FC Augsburg President Klaus Hofmann has admitted that he is concerned about the future of Germany’s current model of club ownership. The widely-praised 50+1 regulation which guarantees that ... Read More »

Bayern Munich under scrutiny after agreeing sponsorship deal with Doha Airport

Another January, another debate surrounding training camps in the Middle East. Bayern Munich have strengthened connections with Qatar, agreeing a lucrative sponsorship agreement with Doha Airport. As Bayern Munich dropped from third to fifth in the Deloitte Money League, the club on Wednesday confirmed a "Platinum-Sponsorship" agreement with Hamad Airport in Doha, which is believed to be worth several million euros. Neither the value nor the duration of the deal was disclosed by the chief executive of Qatar Airways, the owner of Doha Airport, Akbar al-Baker. Bayern Munich chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, explained that "this partnership is another step in our internationalization strategy" at a press conference in the oil-rich Gulf state. Rumennigge added: "Part of our cooperation agreement is that we will jointly support social projects and a dialogue concerning critical community and political topics." But Bayern's decision to strengthen ties with Qatar, amid criticism over the country's violations of human rights and treatment of migrant workers, has provoked extra debate on the topic. The club faced particularly scrutiny for its decision to hold a friendly match in Saudi Arabia last year , but has continued to make Qatar its winter training camp for the past six seasons. Public pressure on Bayern Qatar, host nation of the 2022 World Cup, faces investigations into its successful bid to host the tournament, while its recent bids for the 2017 and 2019 World Athletics Championships are similarly subject to bribery allegations. Fans and politicians have perennially questioned the moral obligations of the club, which now adds the Qatari Airport as its 10th 'Platinum Sponsor'. "As if there were no other countries in the whole world for a training camp," tweeted Özcan Mutlu, a Green Party member of the Bundestag lower house of parliament who has vociferously criticized the club for its connections in the Middle East. But German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the "Bild" newspaper earlier that "Qatar is a strong investor in Germany" and "from a foreign policy point of view, there is nothing wrong with there being exclusive economic relations between Bayern Munich and Qatari companies." Germans companies, such as Volkswagen and Deutsche Bank, have received considerable investments from various Qatari corporations. The additional negative scrutiny is yet another smirch on the reputation of the club. In 2013, Rummenigge was fined €250,000 for failing to declare to customs two gold Rolex watches he had brought back as gifts from Qatar, while current Bayern coach Pep Guardiola was an ambassador for Qatar's World Cup bid. Influential supporters group "Club Nr 12" admitted it took note of the deal with "more than a little astonishment," while said it was surprised at the pace of the club's internationalization. In a statement on their Facebook page, the group said the club cannot simply select partners for economic reasons, saying moral concerns should also play a role. However, the group also said that they believed Bayern's management would shared this opinion. The supporters group also wants to be part of the discussions around the political discussion in Qatar and will hold a podium discussion in March.

Another January, another debate surrounding training camps in the Middle East. Bayern Munich have strengthened connections with Qatar, agreeing a lucrative sponsorship agreement with Doha Airport. As Bayern Munich dropped from third to fifth in the Deloitte Money League, the club on Wednesday confirmed a “Platinum-Sponsorship” agreement with Hamad Airport in Doha, which is believed to be worth several million ... Read More »

Argentina’s Lionel Messi wins 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or

Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the 2015 FIFA Ballon d'Or, ahead of two-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The FIFA women's Ballon d'Or was won by American World Cup hero Carli Lloyd. For the fifth time in his illustrious career, Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d'Or award, claiming the top prize ahead of Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and Brazil's Neymar. Messi won 41.33% of the votes, which were taken from national team captains and coaches of FIFA's 209 member countries, plus selected journalists. "It is a very special moment for me to be back here on this stage," Messi told the audience of football's elite at the ceremony in Zurich. "It’s incredible this is my fifth. It’s much more than anything I’ve dreamed of as a kid. I want to thank everyone who voted for me and I want to thank my team-mates. And lastly, I want to thank football in general for everything it has brought me. Both the bad and the good. Because it has made me learn and grow." Messi's award puts the icing on the cake of what was an incredible year for he and his club side, Barcelona, who won five major titles, including the UEFA Champions League. Barcelona head coach, Luis Enrique won the award for Men's Coach of the Year after the triumphant campaign, ahead of Bayern Munich's Pep Guardiola and Chile's Jorge Sampaoli. Messi did however lose in one award, being pipped to the Puskas award for Goal of the Year by Brazilian Wendell Lira. Emotional Lloyd takes Women's prize The women's equivalent for the world's best player of 2015 went to the United States' Carli Lloyd, ahead of Germany's Celia Sasic and Japan's Aya Miyama. "Wow. This is truly an honor," Lloyd, who became the first woman to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final, told the audience in Zurich. "This has been a dream of mine ever since I started my journey with the national team." Germany's Sasic, who announced her retirement from football at only 27, shortly after the World Cup, finished second in voting behind Lloyd. 'I don't think there's an award for the next challenge in my life [her pregnancy]. But I'm looking forward to it." The United States capped off a special evening on the women’s side, as national team coach Jill Ellis picked up the award for Women’s Coach of the Year, ahead of England's Mark Sampson and Japan's Norio Sasaki The FIFPro World XI was also announced on Monday evening, with Manuel Neuer the sole representative in the team from the Bundesliga. Elsewhere, FIFA’s Fair Play award was given to all clubs and associations that had helped to support refugees through the year. Former German international and Schalke legend Gerald Asamoah, whose father was a Ghanaian refugee, picked up the award on behalf of the supporting parties.

Argentina and Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the 2015 FIFA Ballon d’Or, ahead of two-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The FIFA women’s Ballon d’Or was won by American World Cup hero Carli Lloyd. For the fifth time in his illustrious career, Lionel Messi has won the FIFA Ballon d’Or award, claiming the top prize ahead of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and ... Read More »

Lots of work left in Bundesliga’s winter transfer period

Whether it's cleaning house or bringing in new recruits, all 18 of Germany's top flight clubs are wheeling and dealing. So how's your team doing? DW took a look after ten days of the transfer period. Bayern Munich The league leaders have spent 2016 thinning out their squad. Jan Kirchhoff and Sinan Kurt were allowed to leave, while Gianluca Gaudino was loaned out to Swiss side St. Gallen for development. With the wealth of talent at their disposal, the Bavarians have no room for those who don't meet the absolute top standards. Given their injury problems, however, Bayern might want to bring in a veteran utility player as insurance, especially as they'll almost surely be playing in three competitions into the spring. Borussia Dortmund Coach Thomas Tuchel had hinted - none too subtly - that he'd like a reinforcement or two this winter, but thus far, Dortmund's biggest move had been to sell youngster Jonas Hofmann to Mönchengladbach for eight to ten million euros. That gives them some spending money, but who will they target? They also need to resolve the situation of out-of-favor defender Neven Subotic, a key ingredient of their recent title-winning seasons. Hertha Berlin The Bundesliga's surprise third-place team is pretty well set at all positions, but they pulled off a nifty bit of business for the future in signing Kurt from Bayern for a mere 600,000 euros. Hertha's main priority will be to get shot of big-salaried playmaker Ronny, whose fitness isn't up to top-flight demands and who wasn't invited to the team's winter training camp. Borussia Mönchengladbach The Foals signed Hofmann as a replacement for André Hahn, who's out long term with a knee injury, and they also loaned out Austrian national defender from RB Salzburg. Gladbach expect immediate returns from them. But can a pair of 23 year olds give hot-and-cold Gladbach what they need most to return to the Champions League, stability? Bayern Leverkusen There has been little news coming out of Leverkusen, which could be an indication that commercial manager Rudi Völler is trusting in his underachieving squad to find their form. Leverkusen would love to find an alternative to playmaker Hakan Calhanoglu, who had a terrible first half of the season, but that's going to be difficult in the winter. Schalke Schalke also disappointed in the latter half of 2015, and the Royal Blues have been taking steps to address their glaring weakness, lack of firepower. Their strategy has been to bolster their attacking midfield by buying 21-year-old Alessandro Schöpf, who's been fantastic for second-division Nuremberg, and loaning out Younes Belhanda from French side Montpellier. At the back, they have to decide whether to cash in on defender Joel Matip, who can walk for free at season's end. Expect more action in Gelsenkirchen. Wolfsburg Everything that's true of Leverkusen goes double for Wolfsburg. The Wolves are the disappointment of the Bundesliga thus far, but sports director Klaus Allofs will trust that the team is still adjusting to the loss of Kevin de Bruyne. He doesn't have much choice. Big new signing Julian Draxler has to be given a chance to settle in, and in the wake of the emissions scandal, main sponsor Volkswagen isn't likely to loosen the purse strings. Mainz Mainz compensated well for the departures of Shinji Okazaki and Johannes Geis over the summer and sit comfortably in the top half of the table. Other than bringing in young Austrian striker Karim Onisiwo, the Carnival Club hasn't done much, probably doesn't need to and likely won't. Cologne The Billy Goats are also comfortably mid-table. To get better, they'd need to improve their attack, which is joint fifth-worst in Germany. So what have Cologne done on the market thus far? You guessed it: signed defender Filip Mladenovich to compete with one of the most reliable fullbacks in the league, Jonas Hector. Chew over that move and see if you understand it. Hamburg The latter half of 2015 saw a major improvement for Hamburg after two near relegations, so the bosses will be forgiven for not wanting to disrupt the nascent chemistry that's been building. On the other hand, those who stand still fall behind. Hamburg could use a reliable alternative to Pierre-Michel Lasogga up front and some depth at the back, but their tight finances leave little room to maneuver. Ingolstadt Ingolstadt have a top-flight defense paired with what often looks like a third-division attack. With only eleven goals scored, the newly promoted club has by and away the worst attack in the Bundesliga. The question is: what player could the Southern Germans realistically target to improve the situation? If they can't identify that man, they'll have to try to defend their way to survival. Augsburg Augsburg got off to a rough start as they had to get used to playing internationally. But they found their feet as 2015 wore on, and the bosses have already succeeded in strengthening the squad in 2016, bringing in Jeffrey Gouweleeuw from Alkmaar for the back line as well as attacking prospect Albian Ajeti from Basel. They should be well poised for first-division football next season, although a return to Europe is probably a stretch. Darmstadt Darmstadt's collection of also-rans and castaways surpassed all expectations in the first season half, and it would almost be a shame not to give them the chance to get the job of first-division survival done. The Lillies may have no other choice. Improvements could be made everywhere in the squad, but the league's smallest club don't have the means to fund any major upgrades. Eintracht Frankfurt The Eagles have been another of the Bundesliga's disappointments, and they wasted no time with the wheeling and dealing, securing the services of Mexican national Marco Fabian and veteran playmaker Szabolcs Huszti before the transfer window even officially opened. They also loaned out Schalke defensive talent Kaan Ayhan until the end of the season. It's hard to see that trio propelling Frankfurt into Europe, but Eintracht seem to be thinking survival first, and the extra depth should help. Stuttgart In terms of name recognition and intrigue, Stuttgart made the biggest signing of the first ten days of the transfer period, when they inked former Mr. Dortmund Kevin Grosskreutz. Together with Artem Kravets, on loan from Dinamo Kiev, he'll give the southern Germans some offensive flexibility. Stuttgart seem to banking on the league's worst defense improving on its own with the team no longer required to play the hara-kiri style of ex-coach Alexander Zorniger. That could be a risky assumption. Werder Bremen Bremen have the league's second-worst defense, which is nothing new, but they no longer score enough goals to compensate. They could use reinforcements all over the pitch, but the cash-strapped club has yet to make a move on the market. Commercial manager Thomas Eichin probably needs to start pulling some rabbits from some hats, if Werder are to survive in the top flight. Hannover If Hannover go down, it won't be for lack of trying transfer-wise. The new year wasn't even a week old when the 96ers shipped out miscast striker Mevlüt Erdinc, a summer acquisition, and brought in Adam Szalai from Hoffenheim. But that begs the question: why would last-placed Hoffenheim give their closest rivals in the relegation fight a helping hand? Without more creativity and ruthlessness in attack, Hannover are likely doomed. Hoffenheim See above. Hoffenheim obvious consider Szalai, whose has a history of serious injuries, hopelessly damaged goods. Otherwise, there's no explaining the deal with Hanover. What's also difficult to explain is why a club that's not hurting for cash let the first ten days of the transfer period pass without activity. There's talent in the Hoffenheim squad, but standing pat this January would be courting disaster.

Whether it’s cleaning house or bringing in new recruits, all 18 of Germany’s top flight clubs are wheeling and dealing. So how’s your team doing? DW took a look after ten days of the transfer period. Bayern Munich The league leaders have spent 2016 thinning out their squad. Jan Kirchhoff and Sinan Kurt were allowed to leave, while Gianluca Gaudino ... Read More »

Soccer in Puntland, Somalia: Giving kids a chance

There are a lot of soccer fans in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, Somalia. Now, fitness centers are getting kids off of the streets and giving them a safe place to play the game. When the floodlights go on, the muezzin makes his call to evening prayer at the nearby mosque. The kids playing on the astroturf field don't let it distract them. Said fakes left, breaks right, aims, shoots and scores. The 23-year-old is on the pitch at the Garowe Fitness Center several times a week. He always comes here in the evening after his classes at the Puntland State University. The center provides a clean place to play soccer. And an armed security guard stands at the entrance to make sure that it is also safe. That is the way things are in Puntland's capitol Garowe. Security guards wielding machine guns also guard the entrance to the university. The government has even ordered that Western visitors be shadowed by three Kalashnikov-toting "attendants" to ward against kidnappings. Internationally, the semi-autonomous Puntland region of northeastern Somalia is most well known as a refuge for pirates. A civil war has been raging in Somalia for 25 years - weapons and soldiers are simply a part of everyday life. However, in Puntland and neighboring Somaliland the situation seems to be under control. It is mainly the residents of the Somali capitol Mogadishu that suffer the brunt of bomb attacks and the terror perpetrated by the Al-Shabaab militia. Mogadishu lies to the south, and seems far away. Soccer inspires - despite civil war and terrorism Somalis love soccer, it was that way before the war too. Nothing has been able to change that. Not the violence and the terror, not even Somalia's dismal national team. Currently listed third to last in FIFA's world rankings, only Eritrea and Tonga are worse than the Ocean Stars from the Horn of Africa. Yet, thanks to satellite technology, German Bundesliga, English Premier League, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A matches light up TV screens across the country. In Somalia, soccer is played wherever there is space to do so. Whether that be among bombed out ruins, or in refugee camps where people who have fled terror and drought live. Beyond that, new fitness centers that feature soccer pitches have been sprouting up all across the region over the last year and a half. They can now be found in cities like Somaliland's capitol Hargeisa, as well as larger cities in Puntland such as Bosaso, Garowe and Galkayo. 'There was no safe place to play' The fitness center idea came from the director general of the Ministry of Youth and Sport, Ahmed Abdallah Tigana, who is also responsible for the implementation and management of the project. Tigana fled to Europe in 1991 when the war broke out. Until recently he had been living in England, but sports brought him back to Somalia. Soccer is his passion. He says it always has been. When the war came, he was playing in the country's top youth league and was just about to sign a professional contract. But his dream of life as a pro soccer player ended when he sought security abroad. Still, Tigana isn't bitter about the experience, quite the opposite. He laughs a lot and talks enthusiastically about the state of soccer in his country. "I came back and I realized that something was missing: a safe place to play. So I spoke with business people and was able to persuade them to invest in fitness centers with small soccer pitches," he says. "A safe place to play, an investment in Somali soccer and a business opportunity to boot." Ali Abdi Isse is 32-years-old and runs the Garowe Fitness Center. He confirms Tigana's statement: "We realized that young people didn't have anywhere to go. Many left the country or joined radical groups. We wanted to do something about that." There are two small pitches and an amateur soccer field at his center, as well as a fully equipped workout room, a yoga and aerobic room, a pool table, a foosball table and a cafeteria. The center is open every day, and anyone can come in for a small entrance fee. The center pays for itself completely. Women also play soccer here in the evening. The amateur pitch has been shielded off with plywood panels to keep men in this strict Muslim country from seeing the ladies engage in their sporting activities. Puntland wants to play on the world stage Tigana has big plans for soccer in Puntland. And that despite the fact that his ministry only has an annual budget of $8,000 (7,300 euro). Creativity is of the essence, and that is something that soccer enthusiasts show here every day. Last year, Puntland submitted a request to become a member of the world soccer federation FIFA, because according to Tigana, the Somali Football Federation only concentrates its efforts on Mogadishu.Now, many in the semi-autonomous Puntland State of Somalia want to go their own way and thus put the country's enthusiasm for soccer on a path to success. Hopes are high. Puntland, and in the longterm a reunified Somalia, seeks to once again play a role in international soccer. The boys and young men that are passing the ball around on this hot November evening attest to that desire. Arndt Peltner travelled throughout Puntland at the invitation of the aid organization Care Deutschland.

There are a lot of soccer fans in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland, Somalia. Now, fitness centers are getting kids off of the streets and giving them a safe place to play the game. When the floodlights go on, the muezzin makes his call to evening prayer at the nearby mosque. The kids playing on the astroturf field don’t let ... Read More »

Bayern: Outgoing Guardiola remains a mystery

When he leaves Bayern Munich this summer, coach Pep Guardiola will be stepping away from a team that's a potential triple-winner every season. DW's Jefferson Chase tries to explain why he would throw away such a top job. As Pep Guardiola's decision not to extend his contract with Bayern Munich shakes the footballing world, no one will be able to find a convincting explanation as to why he is leaving Munich. And that's fitting. For all his fame, the Catalan football philosopher remains an enigma. He may have spent part of his sabbatical year learning German ahead of taking up the Bayern job in 2013, but he never seems to have really assimilated into Bavaria or the Bundesliga. He's visibly uncomfortable speaking the language, and his pained expression during the team's annual visits to the Oktoberfest almost cried out: Why do I have to wear lederhosen and drink this fizzy yellow wine they call Hefeweizen? Mia san mia may be Bayern's slogan, but Pep never seemed very interested in bring part of the chummy Bavarian "There's only one us" love-fest. Obviously, that's because he's a private guy. In hundreds of press conferences over the past years, Guardiola has revealed next to nothing about himself, and there was no explanation accompanying the club's announcement on Sunday. Sports journalists can only do what they do so often: speculate. Does he fear that he cannot achieve his sporting ambitions in Munich? Or is it perhaps that he feels winning titles with the Bavarians might be a bit too easy? A team too rampant? The accepted wisdom on Pep is that he's a coach who puts playing style above results. When he arrived three years ago, most people expected him to try to install a version of Barcelona tiki-taka on Säbener Street. Guardiola's Bayern did play possession football, but their passing was far more forward and direct than the compact triangles that frustrated opponents in Camp Nou. And it was too much - way, way too much - for the rest of the Bundesliga. The moment that served notice of what was to come was Guardiola's first clash against Jürgen Klopp and Dortmund in November 2013. The 3-0 win for Bayern is best remembered for Mario Götze coming off the bench to score against his old club. But the real story was how Guardiola adjusted his tactics, abandoning short passes for long balls that rendering Dortmund's hyperactive high-pressing useless. Klopp's Dortmund would never again present any threat to Bayern's dominance, not would any of the Bundesliga's other clubs. The irony is that, for some critics, the lack of competition domestically somewhat tarnished the two Bundesliga titles Guardiola won. At least with Barcelona, Guardiola had Real Madrid as a rival. Bayern no longer have any rivals in Germany. "Maybe I will go to a country where a kit-man can be a coach and win the title," former Chelsea coach José Mourinho sneered in Guardiola's direction after last season. "Maybe I need to be smarter, but I still enjoy these difficulties." Could it be that life at Bayern Munich is a bit too easy? Extra motivation for the big prize? There are blank checks waiting for the Catalan coach in Manchester (at both City and United) and at Stamford Bridge, if he decides he fancies the Premier League as a challenge. Before then, he has a bit of unfinished business left in Bavaria. In the past two seasons, a pattern had emerged. Bayern's domestic dominance has ensured that they've wrapped up the Bundesliga title early in the spring, at which point intensity has dropped and Munich has failed to perform as well as they could have in the Champions League. Perhaps, Guardiola reckons he can give his charges a bit of added motivation by announcing his departure - much as Klopp did with Dortmund last season. In any case, Guardiola's tenure at Bayern would feel incomplete without the superlative club football title. For all the talk of the Catalan's legacy at Bayern Munich, his philosophy is as opaque as he himself is as a person. That makes unlikely to be replicated. Bayern fans will have the chance to enjoy Guardiola's football for another six months. Then he will leave - without anyone having really gotten to know him.

When he leaves Bayern Munich this summer, coach Pep Guardiola will be stepping away from a team that’s a potential triple-winner every season. DW’s Jefferson Chase tries to explain why he would throw away such a top job. As Pep Guardiola’s decision not to extend his contract with Bayern Munich shakes the footballing world, no one will be able to ... Read More »

Champions League: Wolfsburg beat Man United to reach Last 16, Gladbach exit

Wolfsburg have qualified for the Last 16 for the first time as they dumped Manchester United out of the competition. Borussia Mönchengladbach conceded three late goals and are out of European competition. Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United (Naldo 13', 84', Vieirinha 29' - Martial 10', Guilavogui o.g. 83') Wolfsburg have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time after a 3-2 win over Manchester United at the Volkswagen Arena. Dieter Hecking's men came from behind after Anthony Martial had opened the scoring, but replied with strikes from Naldo and Vieirinha to secure the win. Naldo grabbed the winner at the end to send Louis van Gaal's United out of the group stages with PSV Eindhoven winning against CSKA Moscow at home. It had all started so well for the Red Devils. On 10 minutes, a delightful through ball from Juan Mata sent Martial clear and the French center-forward slotted past Diego Benaglio. But Wolfsburg equalized three minutes later when Ricardo Rodriguez's free kick was cushioned into the net by Brazilian defender Naldo. With technically sound players such as Julian Draxler and Max Kruse in attack, Wolfsburg are suited to a possession-based game in Europe. The winner on 29 minutes was all that work in a microcosm. Draxler started the move, linking cleverly with Kruse before sliding the ball inside for Vieirinha who tucked into the empty net. Draxler should put the game beyond doubt on 39 minutes, but despite his good anticipation of numerous sliding challenges, he shot straight at David de Gea. United were left frustrated on the stroke of half time when the officials ruled out a goal after Mata was adjudged to be in an offside position. Despite United's dominance in the second period, Van Gaal's men came up short in attack. Benaglio made two important interventions on the hour mark to prevent either Mata or Memphis Depay from scoring. Yet it was Wolfsburg's Guilavogui who put United back in contention, heading past his own goalie on 82 minutes. But the Wolves responded less than a minute later with Naldo heading in his second, his first third career Champions League goal, to book a place in the Last 16. United's elimination from the group phase is the fourth time that the Red Devils have gone out at this stage. Manchester City 4-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach (Silva 16', Sterling 79', 81', Bony 84' - Korb 18', Raffael 44') Raheem Sterling scored a late double as Borussia Mönchengladbach were knocked out of Europe for the season. Manchester City punished a late collapse in Gladbach's ranks with three goals in the last 11 minutes to turn the game around with the Foals leading 2-1 and set for a third-place finish in the group. The Citizens stormed ahead with a great goal from David Silva on 16 minutes, the Spanish attacking-midfielder firing home from a tight angle. Gladbach were level within a minute when right-back-turned-right-winger Julian Korb thumped home a well-taken finish. With more than 60 per cent possession, the Foals turned that dominance into goals with Raffael putting the visitors ahead at the break. City started the half strongly and forced Yann Sommer into successive saves from close range as the Bundesliga side appeared to run out of gas. The English side took full advantage in the last quarter of an hour with two excellent goals from Raheem Sterling. Substitute Jesus Navas provided the first, drawing the ball back for Sterling on 79 minutes before the former Liverpool ace curled home two minutes later. Wilfrield Bony wrapped up the win for Manuel Pellegrini's men who progress from the group as winners with 12 points from six matches.

Wolfsburg have qualified for the Last 16 for the first time as they dumped Manchester United out of the competition. Borussia Mönchengladbach conceded three late goals and are out of European competition. Wolfsburg 3-2 Manchester United (Naldo 13′, 84′, Vieirinha 29′ – Martial 10′, Guilavogui o.g. 83′) Wolfsburg have qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the ... Read More »

FC Barcelona clinches ‘El Clasico’ with 4-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid

La Liga's Barcelona has made a stunning show of force against arch-rivals Real Madrid by claiming a 4-0 victory. Real Madrid's crushing defeat led to calls for the team's president and coach to step down. Barcelona on Saturday brightened their hopes of a sixth La Liga title after humiliating Real Madrid with a stunning 4-0 victory. The match gave Barcelona a league-topping surge, bringing them up to 30 points with Real Madrid trailing six points behind. Barcelona's Luis Suarez scored two goals, while Brazilian striker Neymar and capitan Andres Iniesta fired in one each. "This victory is glorious, especially in the way that it came about," said Barcelona boss Luis Enrique after the game. "We were the better side and the triumph is down to us. There is a long way to go but it is always important to win here…It has been a great all-round performance. It will go down in history as a memorable game for Barcelona," Enrique noted. The crushing defeat for Real Madrid gave way to fans chanting calls for the team's coach Rafa Benitez and President Florentino Perez to step down. "It would not be fair to criticize my players for a lack of desire," said Benitez, according to DPA news agency. "Now I just want to leave this behind and focus on the next game. I congratulate Barcelona, they were very effective today," Benitez added.

La Liga’s Barcelona has made a stunning show of force against arch-rivals Real Madrid by claiming a 4-0 victory. Real Madrid’s crushing defeat led to calls for the team’s president and coach to step down. Barcelona on Saturday brightened their hopes of a sixth La Liga title after humiliating Real Madrid with a stunning 4-0 victory. The match gave Barcelona ... Read More »

Belgium calls off soccer friendly against Spain over security concerns

Belgium has called off a friendly soccer match against Spain after the country raised its terror threat level. Germany, meanwhile, has confirmed that six of its players will not face off against Netherlands on Tuesday. The Belgian football federation announced late Monday that it had called off Tuesday's friendly against Spain over security concerns. The announcement comes after Belgium's national crisis center, under the Interior Ministry, raised the terrorist threat level and recommended the cancellation of the match on its website. "After consulting with the relevant bodies and the Spanish national team, the URBSFA (Royal Belgian Football Association) decided to cancel the match," the federation said. 'New elevated terrorist alert' The football federation said they made the decision late on Monday after the government recommended that the game not be played. "It is in the context of a new elevated terrorist alert and the current pursuit of a suspect." "We deeply regret that such a friendly match between two motivated teams had to be canceled so late and we understand the disappointment of numerous fans." The attacks in Paris began when two explosions were set off by suicide bombers outside France's national soccer stadium while the national team was playing Germany. A 27-year-old Belgian man has been identified by France as the mastermind behind the attacks, in which 129 people were killed and more than 350 injured. The search for the suspect is ongoing. France set to play England Other matches are still scheduled to go ahead on Tuesday evening amid heavy security, with France set to face off against England at Wembley Stadium in London. Germany is set to host the Netherlands in Hanover. However, six players for Germany have already been declared inactive by German national team coach Joachim Löw at a pre-match press conference on Monday.

Belgium has called off a friendly soccer match against Spain after the country raised its terror threat level. Germany, meanwhile, has confirmed that six of its players will not face off against Netherlands on Tuesday. The Belgian football federation announced late Monday that it had called off Tuesday’s friendly against Spain over security concerns. The announcement comes after Belgium’s national ... Read More »

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