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Relentless Monaco dream on after reaching semis

April 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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A brilliant Monaco side that has taken Europe by storm will not relent in their bid for glory after beating Borussia Dortmund to reach the Champions League semi-finals, promised coach Leonardo Jardim.

Monaco

The team from the Mediterranean principality were too good for their German opponents in Wednesday’s quarter-final second leg, winning 3-1 at the Stade Louis II to advance 6-3 on aggregate.

“We have won nothing, but we have made history,” declared Portuguese coach Jardim after the game, as his side extended a run that began in the third qualifying round against Fenerbahce last July, nine months ago.

Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, skipper Radamel Falcao and substitute Valere Germain got their goals with Marco Reus netting for Dortmund on a memorable night for the hosts.

The last team to come through two qualifying rounds to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League was Dynamo Kiev in 1999, although the format was different in those days.

Nobody expected Monaco — conquerors of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City in the last round — to get this far but they have done it playing a superb brand of football that has yielded 141 goals so far this season.

Now they are preparing for their first semi-final appearance since 2004 as they join Juventus, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid in the draw.

None of those teams will fancy playing Monaco, who for all Paris Saint-Germain’s efforts in recent years will be the first French representative in the last four since Lyon in 2010.

“We have taken France into the semi-finals. We want to go out and enjoy it but all four sides are capable of winning the competition,” warned Jardim, whose team were visited by Prince Albert in the dressing room afterwards.

Monaco are not just fighting for glory in Europe — they are also top of the French league and in the French Cup semi-finals, but fatigue is their biggest foe now.

“It’s not easy to play in Europe and try to win the league. We are the team that has played the most games in Europe, so it’s tough,” added a coach who has been linked to Arsenal in the British media.

“Maybe if we had lost in the last 16 we would be fresher now, but we won’t ask our players to change their mentality. We just need to recover well.”

A crunch game at Lyon awaits in the league at the weekend as they look to keep going on all fronts.

“If I have to choose, it’s normal to prefer to win the Champions League, but maybe our chances of winning it are slimmer than winning the league. We will give everything in both,” added the coach.

For Dortmund, elimination was hard to take but the tie was overshadowed by the bomb attack on their team bus en route to last week’s first leg which left Marc Bartra with a broken wrist.

Bartra was there to support his teammates in Monaco but it was another difficult night as their bus was delayed in leaving for the ground, held up by police for security reasons.

“It was the worst thing that could happen a week after the attack — everyone was on the bus ready to go but we were not allowed to,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.

The kick-off was delayed by five minutes but Dortmund’s concentration was again affected.

“It’s only eight days after the terrible attack so we shouldn’t lend too much significance to the team’s performance,” added Tuchel, who was taking charge of Dortmund for the 100th time.

“It was very difficult for the players so I can’t be too critical. We felt ready to push for a semi-final place before the tie but things changed dramatically.”

Dortmund are fourth in the Bundesliga and Tuchel added: “Our path does not end here. We will not be favourites next year but we need to qualify first and then be as unpleasant to play against as possible.”

Third straight Real Madrid draw frustrates Zidane in Dortmund

September 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Zinedine Zidane admitted he was frustrated at Real Madrid’s third straight draw after Andre Schuerrle’s late equaliser ensured a 2-2 stalemate at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Zidane

Real’s serene run since Zidane took charge in January has hit a minor slump in the past week as Real dropped points against Villarreal and Las Palmas to snap a 16-game winning streak in La Liga.

The defending European champions were heading towards a first win in Dortmund at the sixth attempt in the Group F contest thanks to goals by Cristiano Ronaldo and Raphael Varane.

But Schuerrle struck with three minutes left as Dortmund came back for a second time after Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was credited with the goal which cancelled out Ronaldo’s early effort.

“The shame is it is three games in a row now which we have drawn,” said Real coach Zidane.

“The players played a geat match, the result is a difficult one to accept, because we deserved a bit more, but it’s not a bad result.

“I think in the first half we suffered a bit, because they pressed a lot and we knew it is a difficult place to come and play against a good team.

“I am very proud of the game we played, but when you concede three minutes from the end it hurts, especially given the effort the players put in.”

Germany winger Schuerrle came off the bench to rescue Dortmund’s unbeaten record against Real at their Signal Iduna Park stadium.

“We started very well and found enough space for our game, but in the last third, we took the wrong decisions,” said the winger.

“If you come back twice against Real Madrid, that’s a nice feeling. That will help the team to grow together.”

The 25-year-old finished with a heavily-strapped right knee and hopes to be fit for Saturday’s match against fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.

His coach said Dortmund did well to come back twice.

“It felt good to have twice been behind, but still not to have lost, but we could have done better,” said Thomas Tuchel.

“We lost control of the game in the second half, but we showed some good morale and reacted well after their second goal.”

Madrid took the lead when Ronaldo netted his 95th Champions League goal early on.

Aubameyang was credited with the equaliser just before the break as Keylor Navas fisted out a Raphael Guerreiro free-kick only for the ball to rebound back towards goal off Varane.

But the French international defender enjoyed second-half redemption when he stabbed home on 68 minutes before Dortmund levelled in the dying stages.

“All in all, we can live with the result, but it’s never nice to concede a late goal,” said Real’s Germany midfielder Toni Kroos.

“It’s a bit annoying, but a draw is a fair result overall.

“They were very strong and controlled the ball in the first half.

“They pressed us early and we didn’t see enough of the ball in the first 45 minutes to our taste, which we were able to correct.”

James Rodriguez, who along with Gareth Bale helped to set up Ronaldo’s opener, said the draw will act as a confidence boost.

“We leave here with very good sensations, which is different to the last two games,” said the Colombia playmaker.

“They always press a lot, it is a very difficult place to come and the fair result would have been for us to win.

“We’ve drawn in the last two La Liga games. We have another game on Sunday and we need to bounce back,” he added ahead of their Spanish league match at home to Eibar on Sunday.

Real’s next Group F outing is at home to Legia Warsaw next month, while Dortmund visit Sporting, who beat the Polish champions 2-0 on Tuesday.

Dortmund in talks with Bayern over Goetze return – report

July 19, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund have started transfer talks with Bayern Munich over attacking midfielder Mario Goetze’s possible return to Westfalenstadion, according to a media report.

Mario Gotze has struggled to break into the Bayern team

Mario Gotze has struggled to break into the Bayern team

Goetze won two Bundesliga titles with Dortmund before joining Bayern in 2013 but failed to secure a starting place in three seasons under coach Pep Guardiola, who has since joined Premier League side Manchester City.

The 24-year-old has also been linked in British media with a move to former Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp at Liverpool.

Goetze winning goal

Goetze winning goal

 

“I can confirm that talks with Borussia Dortmund have taken place. There have also been talks with his agent, but the deal is not done just yet. Both clubs will have to reach an agreement over a transfer fee first,” Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Sport1.

The Germany international scored three goals in 14 Bundesliga appearances last season having only returned to fitness in February following a five-month injury break after suffering an adductor muscle injury in October.

“Goetze has been at Bayern for three years and it did not work out for him. I am not surprised that Goetze wants to leave. He is 24 years old and needs to play regularly,” Rummenigge added.

Goetze, who scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, played four times for Germany at the European Championship in France, where they were eliminated by the hosts in the semi-finals.

Liverpool stun Dortmund, Sevila edge through

April 15, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Liverpool added another fairytale comeback to the history books as they fought back from 3-1 down against Borussia Dortmund to reach the Europa League semi-finals after Dejan Lovren’s towering stoppage-time header secured a 4-3 win on Thursday.

Football Soccer - Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg - Anfield, Liverpool, England - 14/4/16 Liverpool's Dejan Lovren scores their fourth goal Reuters / Darren Staples Livepic

Lovren rose at the far post to rifle home his header in the first minute of added time, recalling memories of Liverpool’s 2005 Champions League final comeback against AC Milan and propelling them into the last four with a 5-4 aggregate victory.

Liverpool, 2-0 down after nine minutes, will be joined in Friday’s draw by holders Sevilla, who needed a penalty shootout to edge past Spanish rivals Athletic Bilbao.

Spain will have two sides in the last four after Villarreal beat Sparta Prague 4-2 and 6-3 over the two legs, while Shakhtar Donetsk defeated Braga 4-0 at home to complete a 6-1 aggregate triumph.

Liverpool’s victory at Anfield was greeted by typically exuberant celebrations from manager Juergen Klopp, who spent seven years at Dortmund and would have been no stranger to the quick-fire counter attacks that earned the visitors a 2-0 lead.

Liverpool might have felt they had a slight advantage over Dortmund having snatched an away goal in a 1-1 first-leg draw, but the tables were turned in the blink of an eye after a whirlwind start by the Germans.

Liverpool were slapdash in possession, Dortmund ruthless on the counter as they brutally punishing Liverpool’s errors with both early goals starting from the hosts gifting them the ball.

Dortmund played with the same intensity they did when Klopp led them to two Bundesliga titles and a Champions League final, harrying Liverpool all over the pitch and winning back the ball in dangerous areas.

The first goal arrived after five minutes as a rapid break ended with Simon Mignolet saving brilliantly from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, only for Henrikh Mkhitaryan to sweep home the rebound.

It was soon 2-0 as Marco Reus powered through the Liverpool midfield and fed Aubameyang to rifle his finish into the roof of the net, beating Mignolet at his near post.

Having never lost at home to German opposition in 13 games, Liverpool were suddenly facing a mountainous climb back into the encounter, but they were given hope three minutes into the second half when Divock Origi raced through and poked his finish past Roman Weidenfeller.

Their spirits were swiftly dampened, however, when Reus made it 3-1 after 57 minutes, before being partially restored through Philippe Coutinho’s curling effort.

The Anfield roar went into overdrive when Mamadou Sakho levelled with a header from a corner with 12 minutes remaining and the final blow was delivered when Lovren rose to head home James Milner’s cross.

That sparked euphoric celebrations among the home support and left the visiting contingent holding their heads in disbelief.

“It is difficult to explain. A wonderful, wonderful night at Anfield and to be honest the game was strange,” an almost disbelieving Klopp said.

Liverpool are no strangers to titanic fightbacks with perhaps the greatest moment in their history coming when they came back from 3-0 down against Milan to win a fifth European title on penalties.

Just as on that night 11 years ago, their opponents were left wondering how they had lost control of the match.

“It was not logical. It was very emotional. At the end at 3-3 everyone here believed it was meant to be, it was destiny,” Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said.

“If you have such a strong belief then things can happen.”

Sevilla, who have made the competition their own in the last two years, lost 2-1 at home to Bilbao, but edged through on penalties.

They fell behind when Aritz Aduriz scored his 10th goal in this season’s competition and after equalising through Kevin Gameiro, were behind again when Raul Garcia found the net with a looping header 10 minutes from time.

That levelled the tie at 3-3 on aggregate and forced extra time. With the sides still level after 120 minutes, Sevilla sneaked through after Bilbao’s Benat Etxebarria missed their fourth spot-kick and Gameiro scored to secure a 5-4 shootout victory.

Shakhtar Donetsk cruised into only their second European semi-final with Darijo Srna opening the scoring from the penalty spot to mark his record-breaking 486th game for the club.

Two own goals from Braga centre back Ricardo Ferreira either side of a goal from Viktor Kovalenko rounded off the scoring.

Villarreal’s Cedric Bakambu struck twice to take his tally in the competition to nine goals as they reached the semi-finals for the third time with a 4-2 win at Sparta Prague.

Liverpool hold Dortmund on Klopp’s return, Sevilla win

April 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp enjoyed a satisfying return to Borussia Dortmund as his new side frustrated his former charges and claimed a valuable away goal to draw 1-1 in their Europa League quarter-final, first leg on Thursday.

Football Soccer - Borussia Dortmund v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final First Leg - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, Germany - 7/4/16 Liverpool's Roberto Firmino in action with Borussia Dortmund's Nuri Sahin Reuters / Wolfgang Rattay Livepic

Klopp, whose seven-year Dortmund spell ended last season, was warmly welcomed back to the Westfalenstadion and enjoyed his night as Liverpool took a first-half lead through Divock Origi before Mats Hummels levelled after the break.

Holders Sevilla are well-versed in the art of getting results in two-legged knockout ties and their bid for a third successive Europa League title stayed firmly on course with a 2-1 win at La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao.

Villarreal, the third Spanish club in the last eight of Europe’s second-tier competition, also enjoyed first-leg success with a 2-1 win at home to Sparta Prague, while Shakhtar Donetsk won at Braga by the same scoreline.

Klopp’s return was always going to be an emotionally-charged occasion for the Liverpool boss and the Dortmund fans, whose affection for their former coach, who delivered two Bundesliga titles, remains undimmed since his departure.

There was warm applause from all around the stadium as Klopp was welcomed back prior to kickoff and the spirit of friendship between the teams extended to a unified and rousing rendition of both clubs’ anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone”.

Dortmund have been in superb form — unbeaten in 16 matches in 2016 — but they were sluggish in the opening 45 minutes when Liverpool chased, harried and pressed relentlessly.

The visitors took the lead after 36 minutes when industrious Origi, preferred in attack to Daniel Sturridge, latched on to a flick forward, took a touch to control the ball and squeezed a low shot across Roman Weidenfeller into the net.

The Belgian should have doubled the lead before halftime but shot straight at Weidenfeller and Liverpool were made to pay three minutes after the break when Hummels powered a header from Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross past Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool comfortably survived Dortmund’s best efforts for the remainder of the match and will head to Anfield buoyed by their performance, with a knee injury for captain Jordan Henderson the only disappointment for Klopp.

“Dortmund is a pretty good side and everyone could see that but we had our moments and we could have won the game,” Klopp told BT Sport.

“I’m pretty sure a lot of people thought we would lose 2, 3 or 4-0. But at some moments we had Dortmund and around our goal we were brilliant.”

Sevilla, aiming to become the first side to lift the trophy for three years running, but had not won an away game in Europe or La Liga all season and were behind early in the second half.

Atheltic’s Aritz Aduriz, the Europa League’s top scorer this season, got his ninth in the competition when he dipped low at the back post to head Iker Muniain’s cross past keeper David Soria three minutes into the second half.

The two teams, locked together on points in La Liga, were level on the night, however, when Muniain’s poor header back was intercepted by Ever Banega, who fed Timothee Kolodziejczak to finish left-footed after 56 minutes.

The comeback was complete with seven minutes remaining when Kevin Gameiro found Vicente Iborra on the counter and he poked the ball past Bilbao keeper Iago Herrerin.

Shakhtar Donetsk started their game with Braga on the back of an 8-1 domestic victory over Metalist Kharkiv, in sharp contrast to their Portuguese opponents, who lost 5-1 to Benfica in their last outing.

The Ukrainian side took the lead through Yaroslav Rakitskiy’s volley just before halftime, and Facundo Ferreyra doubled the advantage with 15 minutes remaining when he diverted a cross into the Braga net.

Wilson Eduardo gave Braga a lifeline, however, when he headed home in the 89th minute.

Villarreal came into their clash against Sparta Prague with a 100 percent record at home in Europe this season without having conceded a goal, while Sparta had gone 12 matches unbeaten in the competition.

Something had to give and Villarreal will head into the second leg as favourites after Cedric Bakambu’s scored either side of Jakub Brabec’s equaliser to give them the advantage heading into next Thursday’s return fixtures.

Dortmund v Liverpool draw is nightmare for Klopp

March 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Juergen Klopp’s Europa League nightmare came true on Friday when his Liverpool side were drawn to meet former club Borussia Dortmund in next month’s quarter-finals.

Football Soccer - Manchester United v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg - Old Trafford, Manchester, England - 17/3/16Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp Action Images via Reuters / Jason CairnduffLivepicEDITORIAL USE ONLY. - RTSAYSM

Sevilla, bidding to win the trophy for the third successive season, will tackle La Liga rivals Athletic Bilbao while Villarreal take on Sparta Prague and Braga face Shakhtar Donetsk.

After Liverpool knocked out bitter rivals Manchester United on Thursday, Klopp told reporters: “I hope we don’t get Dortmund”.

The charismatic German spent seven seasons at Dortmund, leading them to two Bundesliga titles, German Cup glory and the 2013 Champions League final where they lost to Bayern Munich.

“He comes back!”, said Dortmund playmaker Ilkay Guendogan on Twitter after hearing news of the draw.

Liverpool, without a major trophy since they lifted the League Cup in 2012, will travel to Germany for the first leg on April 7 before hosting the return match at Anfield seven days later.

It is 50 years since the two teams met in the final of the now-defunct European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1966, Dortmund winning 2-1.

The Germans reached the last eight by defeating another English club, Tottenham Hotspur, in the last 16.

Sevilla have won their last two La Liga fixtures against Bilbao 2-0 but the teams have never met before in European competition.

Villarreal and Sparta have also never been drawn together before while Ukrainians Shakhtar, who won the UEFA Cup in 2009, beat Braga of Portugal twice in the group stage of the 2010-11 Champions League.

Cocky Coutinho helps steer Liverpool past Manchester United

March 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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An impudent individual goal from Philippe Coutinho steered Liverpool comfortably into the quarter-finals of the Europa League on Thursday after a 1-1 draw at bitter rivals Manchester United completed a 3-1 aggregate win.

Football Soccer - Manchester United v Liverpool - UEFA Europa League Round of 16 Second Leg - Old Trafford, Manchester, England - 17/3/16. Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho in action with Manchester United's Michael Carrick and Daley Blind. Reuters / Andrew Yates

Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker danced down the touchline and glided past a defender, before chipping the ball over keeper David De Gea from a tight angle to quieten the home crowd, who were sensing a comeback after Anthony Martial’s penalty opener.

Juergen Klopp’s side, who did most of the damage in a 2-0 first-leg victory, will be joined in the last eight by the German coach’s former club Borussia Dortmund, who brushed aside Tottenham Hotspur 5-1 over two legs, after a 2-1 win in London.

The quarter-final lineup was completed by holders Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Shakhtar Donetsk, Braga, Sparta Prague and Villarreal with the draw taking place on Friday.

Liverpool’s rivalry with United stretches back over 122 years, but the two sides were playing out their bitter feud on the European stage for the first time in the two-legged tie.

The 196th competitive encounter between the clubs had the potential to be an epic with United needing to come out all guns blazing in order to have a chance.

When Martial was tripped by Nathaniel Clyne with barely half an hour gone and picked himself up to coolly dispatch the penalty the comeback looked on.

United had already squandered a number of chances and Liverpool looked vulnerable, but any momentum the home side had built up was crushed a minute before halftime when Coutinho’s goal left them needing to score four.

The second half was an anti-climax as United looked bereft of belief and Liverpool threatened on the break.

Liverpool are England’s only surviving representative in Europe’s second-tier competition as Tottenham’s Europa League adventure was ended emphatically by Dortmund.

Led by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored twice on Thursday to add to the goal he scored in the first leg, Dortmund proved too strong for the Premier League outfit, who left top scorer Harry Kane on the bench with an eye on their domestic title challenge.

Aubameyang opened the scoring with a superb dipping effort after 24 minutes and doubled the advantage with a venomous effort 19 minutes time.

Son Heung-Min’s consolation for Spurs could not stop them falling to their first defeat in 10 European home games.

Sevilla, chasing a record third straight title, were out of sight by halftime in their second leg clash against Basel as two Kevin Gameiro strikes in the space of two minutes and a goal for Adil Rami completed a 3-0 victory after the first leg ended 0-0.

Fenerbahce ended with eight men as they gave up a 1-0 first-leg advantage in a 4-1 defeat to Braga, who ended the Turkish side’s involvement with goals from Ahmed Hassan, a Josue penalty and further efforts from Nikola Stojiljkovic and Rafa Silva.

Mehmet Topal, Alper Potuk and Volkan Sen, who received two yellow cards in stoppage time, were all dismissed for Fenerbahce.

Aritz Aduriz scored late in the second half to send Athletic Bilbao into the quarter-finals on away goals, despite a 2-1 defeat to Spanish rivals Valencia.

Valencia boss Gary Neville has had little to celebrate since joining the club in December but looked on course for some rare joy when his side scored twice in the first half through Santi Mina and Brazilian defender Aderlan Santos.

Elation turned to disappointment, however, when Aduriz poked home his eighth Europa League goal this season after 76 minutes following a brilliant flick from Raul Garcia, giving Bilbao a crucial away goal to add to their 1-0 win in the first leg.

There was no late drama in Italy where Lazio were taken apart by Sparta Prague, who scored three times in the first half to complete a 3-0 away win and 4-1 aggregate victory.

Villarreal went through 2-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw at Bayer Leverkusen while Shakhtar Donetsk’s Croatian striker Eduardo scored in stoppage time for a 1-0 win over at Anderlecht to complete a 4-1 aggregate victory.

Thriller in the Ruhr valley as Dortmund face Bayern

March 4, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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The Bundesliga can become a surprise cliffhanger on Saturday when leaders Bayern Munich travel to second-placed Borussia Dortmund, with five points separating the two teams.

Bayern Munich's Kingsley Coman fights for the ball with Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus (R) during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match in Munich, Germany, October 4, 2015. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle

Dortmund will attempt to slash the gap with a win over their domestic rivals, throwing the title race wide open with just nine matches to go.

Bayern’s shock 2-1 loss at home against Mainz 05 on Wednesday, coupled with Dortmund’s victory over Darmstadt 98, has pumped much-needed life into what was until now a stale affair.

The Bavarians had gone 11 points clear last Saturday, before Dortmund won on Sunday, and seemed to be cruising towards a record fourth Bundesliga title.

Their second loss of the season could not have come at a worse time as they chase a treble of titles, with coach Pep Guardiola leaving at the end of the season to join Manchester City and pressure mounting with every match.

“We will do everything to cut the deficit even further,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, who rested eight players against Darmstadt, including winger Marco Reus.

“Bayern’s lead has melted away. Now we have an even better starting position. We have worked hard to get ourselves in this position and now the ball is in our court. I hope we can now show the same energy.”

“Bayern are still in control but we have a chance to make this race tight again.”

Dortmund have had a stellar season so far with most previous Bundesliga champions having had fewer points at this stage.

While Bayern’s dominance in Germany under Guardiola has been undisputed in the previous two seasons, the Spaniard needs to step it up a gear if he wants to leave with his third successive German league title.

Not even disgraced former president, Uli Hoeness, released this week from prison on suspension after 21 months following conviction for tax evasion, and sitting in the stands for his first game on Wednesday could inspire Bayern to turn the match around.

“We had our chances to win against Mainz but it was just not enough,” Guardiola told reporters. “We still have a lot of work to do if we are to defend our title.”

Guardiola also rotated, giving Xabi Alonso, Philipp Lahm and several others a rest ahead of Saturday’s crunch match.

Hertha Berlin,, who beat Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek, are third on 42 points, 15 behind Dortmund, and will play Hamburg SV as they look to keep Borussia Moenchengladbach, three points behind in fourth place at bay.

Dortmund’s Aubameyang snatches winner against Leverkusen

February 22, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored a second-half winner as Borussia Dortmund secured a 1-0 victory at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday to maintain their solitary pursuit of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Football Soccer -- Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Dortmund - German Bundesliga - BayArena , Leverkusen, 21/02/16 Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) scores a goal. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Dortmund are on 51 points, more than any team in second place has ever had after 22 matches, but they are still eight behind Bayern, who won 3-1 against Darmstadt 98 on Saturday.

Dortmund, who have more points after 22 matchdays than 42 of the 52 Bundesliga champions had at that stage, are a massive 15 points clear of third-placed Hertha Berlin, who have 36.

“We were too wasteful with our chances for the 2-0 and then had a bit of luck in the end,” said Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel. “We were prepared for an intensive game. In the second half we controlled the spaces better and deserved the lead.”

It took them almost 45 minutes, however, to create a decent chance with Aubameyang firing wide from a good position.

Leverkusen responded with a chance of their own but Karim Bellarabi’s shot was palmed wide by keeper Roman Buerki.

African player of the year Aubameyang struck in the 64th minute with Erik Durm delivering a fine cutback and the Gabon international tapping in for his 21st league goal this season.

The goal prompted an angry reaction from Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt, who was sent to the stands by the referee, but refused to leave his technical area, causing the game to be briefly interrupted.

Referee Felix Zwayer stopped play and left the pitch until Schmidt followed his orders.

“That break was complicated and an advantage for Leverkusen,” Tuchel said. “They could turn this negative situation for them and create a special energy in a very emotional stadium.”

Leverkusen’s Javier Hernandez should have grabbed an equaliser for the hosts in the 90th minute but the Mexican forward shot wide from close range with only the keeper to beat.

VfB Stuttgart substitute Martin Harnik scored a 74th minute equaliser at Schalke 04, salvaging a 1-1 draw that meant the home side missed the opportunity to join Hertha Berlin in third place on 36 points. Instead, Schalke now lie sixth on 34.

Hanover 96’s chances of remaining in the top division received another hammer blow with a 1-0 loss to struggling Augsburg which leaves them anchored in last place on 14, four behind 17th-placed Hoffenheim.

Dortmund reach semi-finals as fans stage ticket protest

February 10, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund reached the German Cup semi-finals with a 3-1 win at VfB Stuttgart on Tuesday as fans protested against high ticket prices by staying away at the start and throwing tennis balls on to the pitch.

Football Soccer - VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund - German Cup (DFB Pokal) - Mercedes-Benz Arena, Stuttgart, Germany - 09/ 02/16 Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scores second goal against VfB Stuttgart

Several thousand Dortmund supporters spent the opening 20 minutes away from their seats at the Mercedes Benz arena while a banner saying ‘football should be affordable’ stretched across the empty spaces.

The visiting fans, however, got their money’s worth for the entrance fee when German international Marco Reus fired the ball in from close range in the fifth minute.

Stuttgart’s Lukas Rupp levelled with a deflected effort in the 21st minute before a shower of tennis balls cascaded on to field from the Dortmund section.

Reus then turned provider by sending Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang through for a fine finish.

Aubameyang created the third goal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a minute to go.

Elsewhere, Werder Bremen went through with a 3-1 victory at Bayer Leverkusen who had Brazilian defender Wendell sent off in the 41st minute.

Favourites Bayern Munich visit second tier VfL Bochum on Wednesday when Hertha Berlin also travel to second tier Heidenheim.

Januzaj poised for Man United return – reports

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

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Belgian winger Adnan Januzaj is poised to return to Manchester United after a disappointing loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, British media reported on Wednesday.

Football - Manchester United Training - Jan Breydel Stadium, Bruges, Belgium - 25/8/15. Manchester United's Adnan Januzaj during training. Action Images via Reuters / Carl Recine

The 20-year-old left Old Trafford last year in a bid to get more regular first-team opportunities but he has started only three matches for the Bundesliga side and United have decided to bring him back to England.

Januzaj sprung to prominence in 2013 when he scored two fine goals to secure a 2-1 win for United at Sunderland in his first start for the Premier League club under then manager David Moyes.

He made 22 appearances under new manager Louis van Gaal in 2014-15 and scored the winner against Aston Villa in a Premier League match this season before moving to Dortmund.

United are fifth in the Premier League, nine points behind leaders Arsenal after 20 matches, and Van Gaal is under pressure to qualify for next season’s Champions League by finishing in the top four.

Dortmund outclass Frankfurt to keep Bayern in sight

December 14, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund came from a goal down to crush 10-man Eintracht Frankfurt 4-1 on Sunday, tightening their hold on second place and staying on the heels of Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich.

Football Soccer - Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt - German Bundesliga - Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund, 13/12/15 Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa passes ball next to Eintracht Frankfurt's Lukas Hradecky . REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Alex Meier put the visitors ahead with an early goal, before Henrikh Mkhitaryan levelled with a 24th-minute tap-in.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mats Hummels and Adrian Ramos all netted in a scintillating second half for Dortmund, who missed a dozen more clear scoring chances as they rode roughshod over a frustrated Frankfurt.

Bundesliga top scorer Aubameyang took his goal tally to 18 despite shooting wide with a 44th-minute penalty after Slobodan Medojevic was sent off for a second booking.

Dortmund, who bounced back from their midweek Europa League defeat at PAOK Salonika, are on 38 points with a nine-point advantage over third-placed Hertha Berlin. Eintracht dropped to 15th on 14 points after their fourth straight loss, adding pressure on embattled coach Armin Veh.

Dortmund maintained their unbeaten run at home in the league, having won seven of eight matches at their Signal Iduna Park stadium this season.

Bayern are top with 43 points after beating Ingolstadt 2-0 on Saturday, with one more matchday left until the winter break.

Augsburg’s Brazilian forward Caiuby fired home a stoppage-time volley to give them a 2-1 victory over Schalke 04 that lifted them out of the relegation zone and piled more misery on their free-falling opponents.

Hong Jeong-ho gave Augsburg the lead when he backheeled a Dominic Kohr shot into the net in the 34th minute, before Schalke levelled in the 70th with a well-worked goal from Sead Kolasinac, his first in the Bundesliga.

Caiuby, however, scored in stoppage time with a left-footed volley following a poor clearance from Benedikt Hoewedes to secure a second consecutive Bundesliga victory for Augsburg, who were buoyed by reaching the last 32 of the Europa League in midweek.

Augsburg moved up to 13th in the table on 16 points while Schalke, who have won just one in their last seven, dropped to eighth on 24.

Dortmund keep goals flowing to win Ruhr derby

November 9, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Prolific Borussia Dortmund kept the goals flowing as they beat arch-rivals Schalke 3-2 in a pulsating Ruhr derby on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund's players celebrate a goal during their Bundesliga first division soccer match against Schalke 04 in Dortmund, Germany November 8, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Gabon forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal early in the second half turned out to be decisive for Dortmund after Shinji Kagawa and Matthias Ginter gave them a 2-1 halftime lead. Dutchman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored both goals for Schalke.

Dortmund have scored in each of their 22 competitive games since coach Thomas Tuchel took over before the start of the season, amassing a total of 71 including 35 in the Bundesliga.

The win keeps Dortmund second in the Bundesliga with 29 points, five points behind unbeaten leaders Bayern Munich who defeated VfB Stuttgart 4-0 on Saturday to take their tally to 34 points out of a possible 36. Schalke are fifth on 20.

Dortmund broke through in the 30th minute when Ginter got away from Dennis Aogo and sent over a pinpoint cross for Kagawa to head in.

Schalke did not take long to hit back as Leroy Sane set up Huntelaar for the equaliser three minutes later but Dortmund regained the lead two minutes before halftime when Ginter got on the end of Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s corner.

The hosts struck again early in the second half after a counter-attack ended with Gonzalo Castro finding Aubameyang, who fired in from 14 metres.

Ilkay Gundogan and Mkhitaryan were both foiled by Schalke goalkeeper Raul Faehrmann as Dortmund threatened to run away with the points, but instead the hosts were forced to endure a nail-biting finale.

Huntelaar pulled one back after pouncing on a mistake by Dortmund captain Mats Hummels in the 72nd minute and substitute Pierre-Emile Hoejbjerg almost snatched a point when his effort struck the post.

Dortmund, Napoli seal Europa League last 32 spots

November 6, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund and Napoli were the headline acts to qualify for the Europa League knockout stage as both sides plundered a glut of goals in Thursday’s group matches.

Borussia Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (R) scores a goal during their Europa League group C soccer match against Qabala in Dortmund November 5, 2015. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender

Dortmund brushed aside Azerbaijani outfit FK Qabala 4-0 in Germany while Napoli went one better with a 5-0 home thrashing of Danish side Midtjylland.

They will be joined in the last 32 by Molde, who beat former European champions Celtic 2-1 away and Rapid Vienna, who won by the same score at Viktoria Plzen.

Braga, Sion, Schalke 04 and Lokomotiv Moscow, however, will have to wait after missing out on the chance of moving forward with two group matches to spare.

There were some superb finishes to savour as Dortmund eased past Qabala with Germany forward Marco Reus scoring first with an unstoppable low drive after 28 minutes to ensure the Germans had found the net in each of their last 31 competitive games.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang doubled the lead with a left-foot effort before halftime and a Sergei Zenjov own goal made it 3-0.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan rounded off the scoring with a shot that thundered into the net off the bar with 20 minutes remaining, leaving Dortmund top of Group C with 10 points.

Napoli waltzed into the knockout rounds and equalled their record European victory with goals from Omar El Kaddouri, a Manolo Gabbiadini double, Christian Maggio and Jose Callejon.

The Italians are now unbeaten in 14 matches across all competitions and sit top of Group D with an unblemished 12 points from their four games.

Mohamed Elyounoussi and the 40-year-old Daniel Hestad were on target for Norwegian champions Molde as they extended their Group A lead and secured their spot in knockout stage.

There were also celebrations for Rapid Vienna who scored a goal in each half through Philipp Schobesberger to beat Plzen and maintain their 100 percent record in Group E.

New Liverpool boss Juergen Klopp made it three wins from his last three matches with a 1-0 success at Rubin Kazan in Russia that left them second in Group B, two points behind Sion.

Jordon Ibe netted his first goal for Liverpool, latching on to a neat pass from Roberto Firmino to power into the penalty area and fire right-footed into the bottom corner.

It was a good night for Premier League clubs as Tottenham Hotspur beat Anderlecht 2-1 to go top of Group J thanks to a stunning 87th-minute winner from Mousa Dembele.

After Anderlecht’s Imoh Ezekiel had cancelled out Harry Kane’s first-half opener in the 72nd minute, Dembele fired home an unstoppable left-foot shot from outside the area.

Sion had the chance to secure an early spot in the last 32 with a win over Girondins Bordeaux, but needed a 94th-minute own goal from Clement Chantome to snatch a 1-1 draw.

Braga were also denied an early qualification party as they suffered their first defeat in 10 games and lost their 100 percent record in Group F after a 1-0 defeat at Olympique de Marseille with Georges-Kevin N’Koudou scoring in the 39th.

Locomotive Moscow and Schalke needed wins in their games against Besiktas and Sparta Prague respectively to book spots in the next round but both games ended in 1-1 draws.

There were high-scoring wins for Group L leaders Athletic Bilbao, who beat Partizan Belgrade 5-1, and Augsburg, who eased past AZ Alkmaar 4-1.

Raul Bobadilla grabbed a hat-trick for Augsburg, while Bilbao’s Inaki Williams netted a double for the second time in five days following Sunday’s La Liga brace against Real Betis.

Albanian side Skenderbeu pulled off a surprise 3-0 home win in Group H over Sporting Lisbon, whose cause was not helped by the sending off of goalkeeper Rui Patricio after 17 minutes.

Fiorentina’s Josip Ilicic scored twice in a 2-0 win at Lech Poznan in Group I while Roberto Soldado converted a penalty for Villarreal and then saw his shot deflected home for an own goal by Sergei Politevich in a 2-1 win at Dinamo Minsk in Group E.

Robben scores on return as Bayern rack up 1000th win

October 25, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Arjen Robben netted on his return from injury as Bayern Munich romped to a 4-0 home win against Cologne on Saturday to claim their 1000th victory in the Bundesliga.

Robben

With second-placed Borussia Dortmund hosting Augsburg on Sunday, league leaders Bayern took their chance to extend the gap at the top to 10 points in picking up their 10th straight league win of the season.

Pep Guardiola’s side became the first team to record 1000 Bundesliga victories as Netherlands captain Robben scored in his first match since August while Arturo Vidal, Robert Lewandowski andThomas Mueller also got on the scoresheet.

The Bavarian giants bounced back from the disappointment of Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal in the Champions League — their first loss of the season — in emphatic style.

“This is for all the coaches, fans, players and employees who made this victory possible,” said Guardiola, whose side fired in 26 shots to Cologne’s four.

“1000 victories is outstanding.”

Having been named in the starting line-up after a groin injury, Robben netted after 35 minutes before Vidal doubled their lead five minutes later when he converted Kingsley Coman’s superb pass from the flank.

“I’m pleased for him,” said Guardiola. “We have missed his quality. Arjen has a professionalism, a charisma and a mentality, especially in the one-on-ones.

“He still needs more time, but no one has his nose for goal.”

Poland striker Lewandowski cemented his place as the league’s top scorer when he headed home on 62 minutes for his 13th goal in nine league games this season.

Mueller made it 4-0 on 77 minutes when he converted a penalty after Lewandowski was fouled in the area.

Wolfsburg stayed fourth with a 1-0 win at Darmstadt as Daniel Caligiuri hit their 78th minute winner.

Fresh from their 4-4 draw at home to Roma in the Champions League on Tuesday, Bayer Leverkusen had to come from 2-0 down before beating Stuttgart 4-3 in another thriller.

The first half was goalless, but Stuttgart took a 2-0 lead through Martin Harnik and Daniel Didavi.

Germany winger Karim Bellarabi made it 2-1 on 57 minutes before midfielder Lukas Rupp netted for the visitors’ to make it 3-1 with an hour played.

Two goals in two minutes from Poland defender Sebastian Boenisch and Mexico striker Javier Hernandez levelled the scores before Swiss striker Admir Mehmedi netted the 89th-minute winner.

The victory lifted Leverkusen to fifth while Stuttgart remain in the bottom three.

Nigeria striker Anthony Ujah scored twice as Werder Bremen broke their five-match losing streak with a 3-1 win at Mainz where Japan strikerYoshinori Muto scored the hosts’ consolation goal in the 90th minute.

The result lifted Bremen out of the relegation zone and up to 14th while Mainz dropped to 13th.

Midfielder Marc Stendera was Eintracht Frankfurt’s star with both of their second-half goals in a 2-1 comeback victory at Hanover 96, who hang just above the relegation places.

Hertha Berlin are fifth after their 1-0 win at Bavarian side Ingolstadt on Satruday night when ex-Bayern Munich midfielder Mitchell Weiser scored the winner after just 11 minutes.

Ten-man Hoffenheim are second-from-bottom after their 1-0 defeat to Hamburg on Friday thanks toPierre-Michel Lasogga’s late winner.

Hoffenheim’s Bosnian defender Ermin Bicakcic was sent off for a second yellow card.

We are not German champions yet, warns Bayern’s Guardiola

October 5, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Bayern Munich obliterated Bundesliga rivals Borussia Dortmund 5-1 to open up a seven point gap at the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday but coach Pep Guardiola warned that victory in the top-of-the-table clash had decided nothing yet.

Bayern Munich's coach Pep Guardiola reacts during their German first division Bundesliga soccer match against Borussia Dortmund in Munich, Germany, October 4, 2015. REUTERS/MICHAELA REHLE

The Bavarians, looking for a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, are in a class of their own, racing clear of any title contenders after a record-equalling eighth win in eight matches.

Their superb win over nearest rivals Dortmund, with Bayern scoring three times in 22 minutes, may not be a title-clinching victory.

But with other rivals VfL Wolfsburg and Schalke also failing to keep up after defeats, it is clear this Bundesliga season is quickly becoming a one-horse race.

With a treble of titles firmly in their sight, Guardiola, however, attempted to keep his players’ feet on the ground with a long way still to go in the season.

“We won 5-1 but we also made many mistakes,” said the Spaniard, in his third season in charge. “We have to correct those.”

“No one became German champions today. So we have to stay on the ground,” Guardiola, who has set his sights on winning the Champions League with Bayern, told reporters.

He did, however, praise his players for their consistency.

“I want to congratulate my players, not only for this game, but for the last few months,” he said.

Guardiola’s warning was echoed by club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

“There are still 26 games to go and we would be well advised to continue playing as we have done so far,” the former striker, sporting a traditional Lederhose in honour of Munich’s Oktoberfest beer festival, told reporters.

Any optimism among Bayern players would, however, not be unfounded with Bayern having won every single game in the Bundesliga, German Cup and the Champions League so far this season and breaking records along the way.

Robert Lewandowski struck twice on Sunday to take his tally to 12 goals since the season start, equalling the league record.

One more Bundesliga win after the break for international matches next week, would see them record the best ever opening stretch after nine games.

“Obviously this was a big point game,” said Thomas Mueller, who scored twice to take his league tally to eight.

“Seven points clear and the way we won it today are a signal. But we have to come back well after the break for international matches. But the mentality of the players is unique. Everyone is ready to play.”

Dortmund can’t match Bayern over a season: CEO

October 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke insists his side are not capable of ending Bayern Munich’s domination over the course of a Bundesliga season, ahead of Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash.

Hans-Joachim-Watzke

German league leaders Bayern host second-placed Dortmund at Munich’s Allianz Arena with Borussia four points behind Pep Guardiola’s Bavarians, who have won all seven league games so far this season.

Dortmund won the Bundesliga title in 2011 and 2012, but ever since Bayern have dominated the German league, winning at a canter for the last three seasons running.

Under new coach Thomas Tuchel, Dortmund are unbeaten with five league wins, but have drawn their last two games and Watzke rejects the notion that they are “hunting” Bayern.

“We never saw ourselves as, don’t see ourselves as, and aren’t Bayern hunters,” Watzke told German daily Bild as Dortmund finished seventh last season.

“We see ourselves as challengers of teams who finished ahead of us last season in the league.

“We want to get back into the Champions League.

“Those are the goals we have set and nothing has changed.” Sunday’s mouth-watering match is billed here as Germany’s “Klassiker”, but Watzke insists Dortmund can not match Bayern’s bumper, star-studded squad over the 34 matches of a Bundesliga season.

“Of course, we have a chance to beat Bayern in selective matches, there’s no question about that, but over the course of 34 games currently no one in Germany — and probably no one in Europe — could deny this unbelievable quality,” said Watzke.

With less than a quarter of the season gone, Bayern, on 21 points, are pulling away from their main rivals Dortmund (17) and Schalke (16) with Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen already well behind on 12.

The term “Bayern hunters” has become a label the German media is keen to tag on any team who get the closest to Bayern in the table — and it is clearly something Dortmund are unwilling to accept.

Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking and sports director Klaus Allofs had to repeatedly brush off the tag throughout last season when their side finished second to Bayern in the league and won the German Cup.

Dortmund cruise past Leverkusen to reclaim top spot

September 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Impressive Borussia Dortmund cruised past Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 on Sunday to reclaim top spot in the Bundesliga and stretch their perfect start to five wins out of five league games.

Borussia Dortmund's players celebrate a goal against Bayer Leverkusen during their Bundesliga first division soccer match in Dortmund, Germany September 20, 2015. REUTERS/INA FASSBENDER

Champions Bayern had beaten Darmstadt 98 3-0 on Saturday to move up to 15 points with their fifth victory but Dortmund’s win, their 11th consecutive in all competitions, put them back ahead on goal difference.

Despite the absence of attacking midfielder Marco Reus, who was left on the bench following his recovery from a fractured toe, Dortmund lay siege from the start and broke the deadlock in the 19th minute. Shinji Kagawa’s 50-metre cross picked out Jonas Hofmann, who pounced on a misjudged exit by keeper Bernd Leno to slot in.

Leverkusen, looking tired and lacking their usual spark after their midweek 4-1 Champions League win over BATE Borisov, should have levelled with Javier Hernandez but his close-range effort six minutes after the restart was blocked by Roman Buerki.

Instead it was the Ruhr valley club, transformed this season under coach Thomas Tuchel after a disappointing 2014/15 campaign, that scored again with Japan international Kagawa, in stellar form this season, flicking in to complete a quick passing move in the 58th.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang converted his third penalty in the last two league games to complete their comfortable win and take his league goal tally to six and 10 in all competitions.

“We knew we needed a top performance today and we oozed precision,” Tuchel told reporters. “We are getting regular confirmation that we have real competitors in the team. We should not spare any thoughts about what our limits could be.”

Dortmund’s Gonzalo Castro almost punished his former club but his low drive hit the post in the final minute with Leverkusen suffering their third straight loss in the league to remain in 13th spot on six points.

Schalke 04 needed the touch of talented teenager Leroy Sane to overcome struggling VfB Stuttgart 1-0 and move up to fourth place while leaving their opponents in joint last place after their fifth loss in five games.

Stuttgart, German champions in 2007, were by far the better side throughout creating at least a dozen clear scoring chances, but lacking the killer touch and being repeatedly denied by Schalke keeper Ralf Faehrmann they extended their worst ever start to the Bundesliga.

Schalke, with a total of 10 attempts on and off target compared to Stuttgart’s 26, required one quick break to score with 19-year-old Sane latching on to a deep pass from Max Meyer, shaking off one defender and firing in with his left foot.

Stuttgart are on zero points along with Borussia Moenchengladbach who have also lost their opening five league matches. Coach Lucien Favre resigned on Sunday as a result of their poor run of results.

True test for Dortmund, Bayern venture to Darmstadt

September 18, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Borussia Dortmund face the first real test of their mettle as Bundesliga leaders on Sunday when they host Bayer Leverkusen, while Bayern Munich face a tricky tie at Darmstadt.

Dortmund

After the disappointment of last season’s seventh-place finish Dortmund are back at the top of the table, ahead of rivals Bayern on goal difference, following four straight wins under new coach Thomas Tuchel.

Dortmund left it late to beat FC Krasnodar in their opening game of the Europa League group stage on Thursday and full-back Marcel Schmelzer is eager for their winning run to continue this weekend.

“We have unfinished business, not just against Leverkusen but in general (after last season),” Schmelzer, whose side were beaten 2-0 at home by Leverkusen last term, told the Bundesliga’s official website.

“We’re on the right track at the moment, though: we’re focussed, working hard and desperately want to succeed.

“We know it’s difficult to maintain the high level we’re playing at, however, and so we want to make sure we keep a comfortable cushion over our rivals and remain in the Champions League places for as long as possible.”

Pep Guardiola’s star-studded Bayern squad will receive a warm welcome at Darmstadt’s antiquated Merck Stadion on Saturday with the hosts looking for another upset win having stunned Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 last week at the BayArena.

Fresh from Wednesday’s impressive 3-0 Champions League win at Olympiakos, Bayern turn their attention to beating Darmstadt to claim top spot in the table before Dortmund play 24 hours later.

Darmstadt are back in the Bundesliga after a 33-year absence and have never beaten Bayern in four previous meetings, the last of which was back in 1982.

Germany’s World Cup winner Mario Goetze is set for another afternoon on Bayern’s bench having been left out of the starting line-up in Greece, only to score as a substitute.

Bayern have the express intention of becoming the first team to win four-straight Bundesliga titles and despite winning all four games so far, they find themselves trailing Dortmund.

“It’s great for the Bundesliga, but it’s a bit unsettling to have such an aggressive pursuer. In fact, at the moment we’re the ones doing the chasing,” said Bayern striker Thomas Mueller, the league’s top scorer with six goals in four games.

Guardiola has got off to the best start in any of his three years in Germany, but knows there is no guarantee of success in what is set to be a particularly competitive season.

“No team has ever won the Bundesliga four times in a row,” he explained after Bayern’s comeback win over Augsburg last Saturday.

“That’s because achieving that is really difficult. Bayer Leverkusen lost at home to Darmstadt and VfL Wolfsburg could only get a draw in Ingolstadt.”

The Darmstadt fixture sees the start of Bayern’s run of five matches in 13 days.

The tally includes three key home matches against last season’s league runners-up VfL Wolfsburg, a Champions League clash with Dinamo Zagreb, then Dortmund on October 4, which is warming up to be a battle royal.

“I can’t imagine it’s been much fun for Dortmund to have been behind us in the last three seasons so of course, they’re going to want to attack again,” said Mueller.

Bottom side Borussia Moenchengladbach are at Cologne on Saturday looking for their first win of the season after a disastrous four straight league defeats having been beaten 3-0 at Sevilla on Tuesday in their opening Champions League match.

Kagawa shines as Dortmund reclaim top spot

August 31, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

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Japan international Shinji Kagawa helped set up two goals as Borussia Dortmund beat Hertha Berlin 3-1 on Sunday to go back top of the Bundesliga, ahead of champions Bayern Munich, on goal difference.

Dortmund

Kagawa, who looks to have rediscovered his form this season, charged through in the 27th minute and sailed a perfect cross to the far post for Mats Hummels to head in.

Kagawa then chipped a brilliant pass for Matthias Ginter, whose cutback in the box found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and the Gabon international had no trouble netting his third goal in three games this season.

The 26-year-old crowd favourite had won two Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 with Dortmund before joining Manchester United for a hapless two-year spell and returned last year.

Kagawa had the chance to score one himself in the 73rd but his 20-metre drive sailed narrowly wide with keeper Thomas Kraft out of position.

Hertha cut the deficit with substitute Salomon Kalou, who looked to be offside, tapping in on the rebound after a save from keeper Roman Buerki but Adrian Ramos scored in stoppage time to make sure Dortmund went top on goal difference.

"Obviously we struggled a bit as it was a bit hot today and we also paid the price for our many games recently," Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel told reporters, with his team having also qualified for the Europa League group stage in midweek.

"It is always better to be alone at the top rather than share it (with Bayern) but this is just a momentary snapshot. But it is a good ending ahead of the break for international matches," he said.

Bayern, who beat Bayer Leverkusen 3-0 on Saturday to climb to nine points as well, are second, with VfL Wolfsburg third on seven after easing past Schalke 04 3-0 on Friday.

Borussia Moenchengladbach, third last season and preparing for their maiden Champions League group stage appearance, lost their third straight match, 2-1 at Werder Bremen, and are still looking for their third points of the season.

Werder, who took the lead with an Aron Johannsson spot kick before Lars Stindl levelled, grabbed the winner with Jannik Vestergaard's glancing header eight minutes after the restart, climbing to four points with their first win of the campaign.

Gladbach also had Granit Xhaka sent off late in the game with a second booking.

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