Football | The Guardian
Bundesliga may have pressing problems but it's at the tactical forefront | Jonathan Wilson
Sat, 30 May 2020 19:00:51 GMT

The rustiness on display in Germany since play restarted shows how valuable regular drilling is but Dortmund v Bayern was an overtly modern game of exceptional quality

All sporting events have their myths, the useful narratives hung on them as the flags are lowered on the final day and we have to work out what the past month, all that effort, all that emotion, all that money, was for. Remember how the 2012 Olympics in London brought us together as an open, multicultural nation inspired to a more active future? The 2006 World Cup, we were told, was about the patriotic celebration of a new Germany. And perhaps it was.

However immersion in the Bundesliga over the past three weeks suggests the most tangible legacy was the wholesale adoption of pressing.

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Premier League clubs told depleted squads will not delay restart
Sat, 30 May 2020 14:23:44 GMT
  • More strains and short-term muscle injuries expected
  • Clubs raised issue after spike in Bundesliga lay-offs

Premier League clubs have been told games will still go ahead once the season restarts even if they are down to only 15 fit players, it has emerged.

West Ham vice-chair Karren Brady has revealed the subject of depleted squads was discussed in Thursday’s conference call between clubs after Bundesliga teams reported a spike in strains and short-term muscle injuries following the resumption of football in Germany.

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Vincent Kompany turns down assistant coach job at Manchester City
Sat, 30 May 2020 15:40:00 GMT
  • Anderlecht player-coach will see out contract in Belgium
  • Door likely to remain open for him at the Etihad

Vincent Kompany has turned down an opportunity to become Pep Guardiola’s coaching assistant at Manchester City in favour of continuing in his player-coaching role at Anderlecht.

The vacancy at City arose when Mikel Arteta left to join Arsenal, who are due to play at the Etihad when the Premier League is planned to return on 17 June.

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Schalke's Weston McKennie wears 'Justice for George Floyd' armband
Sat, 30 May 2020 19:00:06 GMT
  • Midfielder tweets: ‘We have to stand up for what we believe in’
  • Floyd’s death at hands of Minneapolis police prompts protests

The Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie took to the pitch for Saturday’s Bundesliga game with Werder Bremen wearing an armband reading “Justice for George”, the African-American whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police has led to protests across the United States.

After the match McKennie tweeted: “To be able to use my platform to bring attention to a problem that has been going on to long feels good!!! We have to stand up for what we believe in and I believe that it is time that we are heard! #justiceforgeorgefloyd #saynotoracism.”

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Nick Pope: 'England is so far away but being the No 1 is something I want'
Sat, 30 May 2020 11:00:41 GMT

Burnley’s goalkeeper on his lower-league journey, learning not to fear mistakes and his desire to dislodge Jordan Pickford

The goalkeeper’s lot is the peculiarity that hides in plain sight. They train alone most of the time, their technical and fitness work being entirely bespoke, and, come match day, it is preferable that they see as little of the ball as possible. Their view of the pitch is different, fixed and detached – everything feels different – and, for them, the game is as much psychological as physical, the ultimate test of focus.

Nick Pope uses words such as “singular” and “individual”. The Burnley and England goalkeeper remembers how as a young player, he had no teammate to talk him through matches, to offer positional tips. You are on your own between the sticks and the deal can seem thankless, unbalanced; one in which reliability, even excellence, is taken for granted and single mistakes tarnish reputations.

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Robert Lewandowski hits double as Bayern go 10 points clear in Bundesliga
Sat, 30 May 2020 16:54:43 GMT
  • Werder Bremen beat Schalke to raise hopes of survival
  • Hoffenheim eye European place after victory over Mainz

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski ended a personal jinx when he opened his account against Fortuna Düsseldorf and added a second in a 5-0 win on Saturday as the holders moved closer to a record-extending 30th Bundesliga title.

The thumping victory left Bayern, who are chasing an eighth successive league title, top of the table on 67 points from 29 games, 10 ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund who visit bottom-of-the-table Paderborn on Sunday.

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Harry Kane says Tottenham have to be near-perfect to finish in top four
Sat, 30 May 2020 13:35:42 GMT
  • ‘We have to win seven or eight to get into Champions League’
  • Spurs’ hopes boosted by key players returning from injury

Harry Kane thinks Tottenham will have to win “seven or eight” of their remaining nine Premier League games if they are to get in the Champions League next season. Spurs’ hopes were in tatters before the season shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic but the three-month hiatus has given them a chance to resurrect their push to finish inside the top four.

Kane, Son Heung-min, Steven Bergwijn – who were all due to miss most of the rest of the season – and Moussa Sissoko are now fully fit for the proposed restart on 17 June. They are still up against it, sitting seven points off fourth-placed Chelsea, but have key games against Manchester United, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Leicester, while they will hope that Manchester City’s appeal against their European ban is rejected.

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Emile Heskey: extra caution needed for BAME footballers when play resumes
Sat, 30 May 2020 11:22:17 GMT

Ex-England star says players from minority backgrounds will feel especially nervous

The former England footballer Emile Heskey has called for extra precautions to be taken for black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) footballers when the Premier League returns to screens in June, three months after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to a halt.

With a provisional restart date for the of 17 June with all games behind closed doors, the former England, Liverpool and Leicester striker said all footballers, but especially those from minority backgrounds, would feel nervous about returning to play.

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Fuenlabrada's José Ramón Sandoval: 'My first task was to win the players over from home'
Sat, 30 May 2020 07:00:36 GMT

The Spanish second-tier side appointed Sandoval on the eve of lockdown. He got to know his players via Zoom but is finally on the training pitch

José Ramón Sandoval has been Fuenlabrada’s manager for 11 weeks but hasn’t taken charge of a single game. He has led only two full training sessions at the Segunda División club, has barely met his players and never even got presented to the media, let alone the fans. He has suffered coronavirus and his timing could hardly have been worse, but he’s wearing a huge grin. Not that you can see it under the Fuenlabrada face mask he ordered himself. “This period has been a like doing a master’s,” he says.

Sandoval had just overcome a hernia operation when Fuenlabrada, based on the outskirts of Madrid, called him. He had been out of work for 16 months, since the second of two short-lived spells with Córdoba. His appointment was announced on 11 March and there was a brief session that evening, his first contact with the entire squad. The following morning, 15 hours into the job, he had his second. And, it turned out, his last. That day, Spain’s football teams were sent home and told not to come back. His presentation was cancelled: this was not the time, the club decided. A state of alarm was declared two days later, the country locked down. “I’m a tsunami, taking everything with it, but after a day the tsunami was stopped,” says the 52-year-old, who made his way into management via amateur clubs starting in the mid-90s, having made little impression as a player.

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Football is back and all it took was the spectre of financial catastrophe | Jonathan Liew
Fri, 29 May 2020 23:01:26 GMT

Project Restart has shrunk the sport to an elite pursuit within a sterile bubble, throwing up questions no one can answer

Well done, everyone: we did it. They said it wasn’t possible. They said it wasn’t safe. They said it would be tactless to start up one of the world’s most lucrative sports leagues while thousands are dying. They said it wouldn’t be a fair competition. They may still be right about all of this, of course. More on that in a moment.

But for now, football is back. Watch it. Drink it in. Lose yourself in a pure six-week football bender: 92 Premier League fixtures, spread across every day of the week and every conceivable time slot, all of it live on television, much of it free to air. Take that, null-and-voiders; dry your tears, PPG; up yours, Troy Deeney. Football is back and all it took was the spectre of financial catastrophe and the sight of Germany handling things far more adeptly.

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My favourite game: Charlton beat Sunderland in classic play-off final | Nick Allbury
Sat, 30 May 2020 10:55:41 GMT

Clive Mendonca’s hat-trick and Michael Gray’s ashen face are among the memories from an incredible encounter

Football stirs the same emotions in all of us. Joy and despair, fragile optimism and resigned acceptance. Yet it’s how we manage these feelings that shapes our relationship with the game.

As a youngster, football was my master. All I wanted in the world was to see my team, Charlton Athletic, walk out at Wembley Stadium, and also, if it wasn’t too much trouble, to see us play in the Premier League. Both always seemed improbable, and yet, remarkably, on one heady late-spring day in 1998, via the Division One play-off final against Sunderland, I was offered one and the tantalising prospect of the other.

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Riyad Mahrez sets Manchester City's sights on Champions League glory
Sat, 30 May 2020 09:35:39 GMT
  • ‘We have the team, the manager … everything’
  • City lead Real Madrid 2-1 going into home leg

Riyad Mahrez is confident Manchester City can win the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

Uefa is intent on the competition returning in August when domestic leagues have been completed following football’s suspension. Should that prove to be the case, City will resume a last-16 tie against Real Madrid leading 2-1 from the first leg at the Bernabéu.

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PSG reach £45m agreement with Internazionale to sign Mauro Icardi
Fri, 29 May 2020 21:09:42 GMT
  • Argentinian forward to join permanently after loan
  • Clubs agree €50m initial fee with €7m in add-ons

Paris Saint-Germain are set to land their first major signing of the summer after reaching an agreement with Internazionale for Mauro Icardi.

The Argentinian striker has spent the season on loan at PSG and the clubs have struck a deal worth €50m (£45m), plus €7m in add-ons, to make the transfer permanent.

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Liverpool and Everton to oppose plans to play games at neutral venues
Fri, 29 May 2020 15:21:11 GMT
  • Merseyside derby among fixtures deemed ‘high risk’
  • Local police happy for title to be won at Anfield

Liverpool and Everton will next week oppose plans to make them play at neutral venues when the Premier League restarts, with Merseyside Police having no objections to any matches at Anfield or Goodison Park “in relation to crime and disorder”.

Jürgen Klopp’s runaway leaders will be denied any opportunity to win the club’s first league title in 30 years at Anfield under plans outlined by Mark Roberts, the national lead for football policing and deputy chief constable of South Yorkshire Police.

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Wolfsburg thrash Cologne as Frauen Bundesliga bucks trend with restart
Fri, 29 May 2020 20:27:03 GMT
  • Wolfsburg 4-0 Cologne (Harder 33pen 78, Huth 45, Popp 66)
  • German top flight is first major women’s league to resume

The Frauen Bundesliga, the top tier of women’s football in Germany, resumed on Friday after a two-month shutdown. League leaders Wolfsburg picked up where they left off, routing Cologne 4-0 to maintain their unbeaten season.

Pernille Harder opened the scoring from the penalty spot, before forward Svenja Huth doubled the lead just before half-time. The visitors kept the three-time defending league champions in reach, but Alexandra Popp made sure of victory with 66 minutes played.

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Fate of League One season still unclear as clubs prepare for crucial meeting
Fri, 29 May 2020 13:02:30 GMT
  • Teams remain divided over how to complete campaign
  • Monday summit could pave way for vote on curtailment

League One clubs are set to remain engulfed by uncertainty for more than a week as prospects of the third tier resuming this season continue to recede.

English Football League clubs will meet on Monday 8 June with the intention of approving the league’s new mechanism for ending a campaign early in the event of the coronavirus pandemic ruling out the possibility of a normal conclusion.

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Freiburg 0-1 Bayer Leverkusen: Bundesliga – as it happened
Fri, 29 May 2020 20:41:10 GMT

Kai Havertz continued his fine recent form with a terrific winning goal to settle a game of few chances and lift Leverkusen to third

That’s it from me. Thanks for reading along; 99% of that match won’t live long in the memory, but that Kai Havertz winner will. I’ll leave you with a roundup of a busy day in Germany. Auf wiedersehen!

Related: Wolfsburg thrash Cologne as Frauen Bundesliga bucks trend with restart

Tapsoba makes an important interception to deny Freiburg’s final push forward, and the visitors get the win!

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Golden Goal: Dietmar Hamann for Germany v England (2000) | Alex Hess
Fri, 29 May 2020 10:00:57 GMT

The final goal at the old Wembley marked the end of an era – and the start of the golden generation’s big-stage letdowns

The final goal at the old Wembley had all the hallmarks of a footballing fairytale: it was a long-range thunderbolt that snatched an unlikely win and gave the complacent favourites their comeuppance. Only problem was, those favourites were the hosts of the party. In the final match at the old national stadium on 7 October 2000, England were beaten by the Germans. Again.

There’s an irony that the party pooper in question would go on to become one of his country’s most popular players on these shores: a German whose long career in England left him with a cricket obsession and an enduring scouse-Bavarian twang.

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Slavisa Jokanovic: 'Euro 92 was taken away from us. We were better than Denmark'
Fri, 29 May 2020 16:00:18 GMT

The former Fulham manager on the day 28 years ago that Yugoslavia were thrown out of the Euros and why he still wants to keep going

“They’re sad memories,” Slavisa Jokanovic says. “The current generation of players won’t play this summer but they’ll get the chance next year; we had the Euros taken away from us and never got it back.”

This Saturday was supposed to be the Champions League final, the club season then giving way to the European Championship. Instead, the 552 footballers who should have been joining national teams across the continent have been left in limbo, denied perhaps the best days of their lives. For most, at least it’s not for long; for those 20 men, it was forever.

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'People say you shouldn’t do this': Nathan Jones heads into fire at Luton
Fri, 29 May 2020 09:01:21 GMT

Fans and staff felt betrayed when their manager left in a promotion season – now he’s back to save them from the drop

They say never go back but, 16 months on from an acrimonious exit, Nathan Jones’s return to Luton ranks as one of the more unlikely managerial comebacks. “People say you shouldn’t do this, you shouldn’t do that but deep in my heart this feels right,” he says.

“I’ve had time to think and talk it over with my wife and the key people in my life, and that includes going to God with it, and it sits right. I have peace with this decision – other decisions I’ve made, I haven’t. When I have peace, they are normally the right decisions.”

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