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Bundesliga is always finished by April – Lahm wants Bayern challengers – football news

The Bundesliga has not had an exciting title race for a while and club legend Philipp Lahm thinks Bayern Munich’s dominance is bad for the competition.

The former Bavarian captain wants to see a proper title race because he feels the gulf between Bayern Munich and the rest is not good for German football.

Bayern have won the title in each of the last six seasons, with 10 points as close as any side has come to toppling Germany’s most successful team since Borussia Dortmund were victorious in 2011-12.

In the same period, the European giants have won the title by as many as 21 and 25 points and their ex-full back Lahm – who retired in 2017 – wants to see more competition at the top of the table.

“It is important for the health of the Bundesliga that there is competition,” the World Cup winner told Marca.

“I am happy that Bayern wins, but it would be better if the other sides challenged them.

“In Spain, Barcelona, [Real] Madrid and Atletico Madrid can win LaLiga. Here [Germany], it [the title race] ends in April.”

During his time playing for Bayern and Germany, Lahm worked under respected coaches such as Pep Guardiola, Carlo Ancelotti and Joachim Low.

Although none have inspired him to go into management yet, Lahm looks back in amazement at Guardiola’s ability to analyse and educate his players.

“Pep is a super coach,” Lahm added. “He is very good, the best at analysing the opponent and the concept of the game.

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“I don’t know what impact he has had on German football, but he left a mark on all of us at Bayern because of how he analysed and educated the players in their positions and in the way they played.

“We knew what the other was going to do in any circumstance of the game.”

Bayern have made a typically strong start to the new Bundesliga campaign, securing back to back wins in their opening two games against Hoffenheim and Stuttgart, under their new manager Niko Kovac.

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Germany’s World Cup failure has helped Low’s standing – Hummels – football news

Joachim Low is now held in even greater regard after standing up and taking responsibility for Germany’s woeful World Cup campaign, according to defender Mats Hummels.

Germany went to Russia as defending champions, but they were knocked out in the group stage – their only first-round exit since 1938.

A 2-0 defeat to South Korea in Kazan proved to be the decisive result in their final group outing, sending shockwaves through world football.

Many associated with German football called for an inquest and for Low to lose his job, but the coach refused to step down and turn his back on the team.

Hummels saluted Low for accepting criticism when in reality the players were the ones responsible for their World Cup disappointment.

“A coach who admits his own mistakes wins a lot of credit and standing in a team,” Hummels told Kicker. “The national coach has not lost any of his standing in the team, he even won [respect].

“We all know that Low had to take a lot of criticism for things we players did on the pitch.

“We know what we have with this coach, how incredibly well he has led the national team, since 2006 by himself and before as an assistant coach.

“He will get back from the team the right things on the pitch.”

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Since the competition, Germany have been blighted by the controversy surrounding Mesut Ozil, who has quit the side amid accusations of racism.

They return to competitive action on Thursday when they host world champions France in the Nations League.

 

 

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Ronaldo not missed by Real Madrid… yet – Isco – football news

Isco thinks Real Madrid are showing they do not miss Cristiano Ronaldo, although he expects critics to doubt their chances of success if they fail to sustain their form.

Julen Lopetegui’s side lost the UEFA Super Cup to Atletico Madrid but have started La Liga in strong fashion, scoring 10 goals in their three consecutive victories.

Seven of those goals have been scored by Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale – two players often said to be marginalised during Ronaldo’s time at the Santiago Bernabeu – while the Portugal star himself has gone three games without finding the net since moving to Juventus in a €112 million (£88m/$117m) deal.

Isco admits Madrid are coping well without the five-time Ballon d’Or winner but feels any team will eventually miss a forward of such quality.

“Cris is an extraordinary player,” he told a news conference. “He guaranteed you 40 to 50 goals. But if we win, they’ll say we don’t miss him and if we don’t win, they’ll say we do.

“We’re playing very well now; players who didn’t score as many goals last year are now filling their boots. We don’t miss him at the moment. I wish him all the best at Juve.”

Isco is preparing for Spain’s Nations League clash with England on Saturday, their first since Luis Enrique took over as head coach after the World Cup.

The Madrid playmaker has been encouraged by the first few training sessions under the former Barcelona boss, even though he has made few alterations to their approach.

“We knew him already. He has a lot of character. He’s won many things,” Isco said. “In the end, the philosophy and the idea are the same. He changes a few things, he has his way of seeing football, but it’s similar.

“We have had a few training sessions with him, we have to adapt but we’re very happy. We’re very enthusiastic at this stage.

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“Every game requires a way to play. If you play against 11 behind the ball, there isn’t much more you can try. We haven’t won with long balls. We have to improve, but we have to continue from this point.”

Luis Enrique is said to have introduced a handful of new rules within the team camp, including banning mobile phones when the players are having dinner.

“It’s important to have boundaries,” Isco said. “The mobiles at dinner rule seems good to me. It will be good for us not to have them with us all the time. Sometimes, we’re more aware of them than our team-mates.”

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A Frenchman or Modric has to win the Ballon d’Or – Giroud – football news

Olivier Giroud has dismissed the importance of The Best FIFA Men’s Player award and is adamant a Frenchman or Luka Modric has to win this year’s Ballon d’Or for their respective World Cup exploits.

FIFA revealed the three-man shortlist for their individual gong on Monday , with Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah and Modric the three nominated.

Many were surprised by the fact Lionel Messi and all of France’s World Cup-winning squad were overlooked, with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe perhaps particularly unlucky given their strong respective seasons.

Giroud was stunned, yet he does not feel FIFA’s award has any relevance in football, with the Ballon d’Or the main prize in his eyes.

“It is very surprising, but, to be honest, I do not attach importance to this trophy,” Giroud told Le Parisien . “I’m only interested in the Ballon d’Or.

“It must be a Frenchman or Modric [who wins the Ballon d’Or]. If I could vote, I know which of my partners I would choose, but I will not tell you.”

Mbappe enjoyed a fine World Cup and caught the eye with several impressive performances, particularly his two-goal display in France’s 4-3 last-16 win over Argentina.

And, for Giroud, the 19-year-old is the best teenage talent he has seen since Thierry Henry.

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When asked if he is continuously surprised by Mbappe, Giroud said: “How can you not be?

“He is breathtaking with his talent and maturity. One wonders where he will stop.

“At the same age, I have never met a boy so strong. It’s never been seen since, perhaps, Thierry Henry.”

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Former Chelsea defender Djilobodji turns up 72 days late as Sunderland seek legal advice – football news

Papy Djilobodji has received a frosty reception from Sunderland after returning to the club.

The former Chelsea defender spent last season on loan at Ligue 1 side Dijon, but failed to report for pre-season training with Jack Ross’ side.

While Sunderland have made a strong start to life in League One – they lie fourth in the table, undefeated after six games – Djilobodji has been notable by his absence from the Wearside club’s ranks.

Now that he has finally made his way back to the side, 72 days after he was expected to return, Sunderland have revealed that they are seeking legal advice over the 29-year-old’s conduct. 

In a statement issued via the club’s official website, they state: “Sunderland AFC would like to issue supporters with the following update on defender Papy Djilobodji.

“Papy Djilobodji has returned to the club, late and having missed pre-season and the opening month of the season proper.

“The club is taking legal advice on the situation, and the player has been undergoing fitness tests, to assess whether he has returned to the club in a state to play professional football.

“There will be no further comment until the player’s fitness has been assessed fully and the club has received full legal advice.”

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Senegal international Djilobodji was a surprise signing at Stamford Bridge after five years in France with Nantes. He failed to make a Premier League appearance for the Blues and was shipped out to the Stadium of Light after just one season, the second half of which he spent at Werder Bremen.

Controversy followed the centre-back to Germany, as he was banned for three games for making a throat-slitting gesture made towards an opponent.

Sunderland were relegated with him in their ranks and then dropped down to League One when he was back in Ligue 1 last term. 

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Brazil star Arthur humbled by Messi praise – football news

Arthur has thanked his new Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi for his praise of the new Brazil midfielder.

Former Gremio man Arthur joined Barca in June and this week is hoping to make his international debut as the Selecao face USA and El Salvador on the Brasil Global Tour.

And on Wednesday Arthur expressed his pride after Messi compared him to former Barca great Xavi.

“I’m very happy to receive that praise from Messi, particularly as it’s him, an exceptional guy. There are no words to express how much he means to football,” Arthur told the press in New Jersey.

“It is a great responsibility to defend Barcelona and Brazil. I have been welcomed by both and the adaptation has gone well with both so far.”

Arthur looks set to miss out on a starting role against USA on Friday, with Fred slotting into midfield alongside Casemiro and Philippe Coutinho, but is expected to play some part in the game and will be targeting a full international bow on Tuesday against El Salvador.

“I am not in direct competition with Fred, we can play together, but it’s a fair and healthy battle anyway,” he said. 

“Those of us who are coming in must get used to the process here, there is a lot to learn. We have been called up to fit the system. The players coming into the side now have to observe everything and learn the lessons.”

Brazil El Salvador BGT

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CFL 2018: Clinical second-half performance keeps Mohun Bagan’s title challenge on track – football news

It was a tale of two contrasting halves. Mohun Bagan were clearly reeling under the hangover of a lacklustre second-half performance in the Kolkata derby in the opening 45 minutes against FCI. They looked jaded and were lacking sharpness in the attacking third.

After an exhaustive encounter against East Bengal, Britto PM looked out of gas on the wings. Whereas on the opposite flank, Azharuddin Mallick resembled a clueless wanderer. FCI were playing a five-man defence with two pivots operating as defensive screeners which diffused any offensive intent before it could threaten Dhanjoy Adhikari under the sticks.

Bagan’s attacking forays looked haphazard and devoid of any purpose. Arijit Bagui misplaced his crosses into the box whereas Abhishek Ambekar was hardly allowed the space to overlap down the left flank. FCI’s two fullbacks Amit Chakraborty and Biswajit Mondal dispensed their duties with perfection as they were able to thwart Bagan’s wing play – the primary attacking avenue for Sankarlal Chakraborty.

Mohun Bagan

When Bagan finally got the opportunity to open the scoring around the half-hour mark, Henry Kisekka’s profligacy left Chakraborty frustrated. 

Dipanda’s controversial goal at the stroke of half-time provided Mariners the belief and vigour to come back strongly in the second-half and score four more goals.

Mohun Bagan

Credit to Chakraborty as well for his excellent match reading. He made a double change at the break and Mohun Bagan were up and running. He replaced both the wingers and brought on an in-form Pintu Mahata and set-piece specialist Tirthankar Sarkar. While Mahata became the live-wire on the left flank, Sarkar started delivering inch-perfect crosses from set-pieces which compounded the pressure on FCI’s defence.

Sourav Das and Shilton D’Silva started to find pockets of space in midfield which allowed both Ambekar and Bagui to link up better with the wingers. The complexity of the game had changed and Mohun Bagan’s second goal was only a matter of when and not if.

Within 17 minutes of resumption, the Maroon and Greens breached FCI’s defence once again which marked the opening of the floodgates.

Mohun Bagan

FCI’s gritty first-half resistance started vanishing into thin air with each passing minute. Instead of looking to hit on the counter they became more concerned to leave the pitch with a respectable scoreline which further pushed them into their defensive cocoon and in turn, helped Bagan establish their dominance.  

Although Kisekka had left his scoring boots at home, the Ugandan showed exemplary vision to slice open FCI’s defence to set up Bagan’s third. The through ball bisected two blue shirts and fell for Mahata who served a cross on a platter for Dipanda to bury into the net. The Cameroonian completed his hat-trick and also reached double figures in the scoring chart of CFL.  

Mohun Bagan

Sarkar’s impeccable left-foot was the architect behind the last two goals as both were scored from set-pieces. Sarkar has been playing scintillating football this season and was one of the mainstays behind Bengal’s eye-grabbing performance in the Santosh Trophy. Like Mahata, Sarkar has also graduated from Bagan’s youth ranks and the Sodpur-born midfielder can be a trusted lieutenant for Sankarlal in the absence of veteran midfielder Mehtab Hossain, who remains sidelined with an arm injury.

After scoring five, Mohun Bagan have thrown down the gauntlet to arch-rivals East Bengal. The century-old club has currently scored seven more goals than their local rivals having played one more match. East Bengal have a mountain to climb when they face Peerless on Thursday as the defending champions will be looking to bump the score-line to remain hot on Bagan’s tail.

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I’ve watched my World Cup goal 100 times but Croatia defeat still hurts – Trippier – football news

Tottenham and England full-back Kieran Trippier has admitted to watching his stunning World Cup free-kick “about 100 times”.

Trippier curled a set-piece past Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic to give England the lead in their World Cup semi-final, though the Three Lions went on to lose 2-1 after extra time.

As England prepare for Saturday’s Nations League opener against Spain before facing Switzerland in a friendly three days later, Trippier told reporters: “I’m not going to lie to you, I’ve watched it back about 100 times.

“Obviously, I enjoyed that moment but even now it still hurts that we got beat. But I did watch it back about 100 times I’m not going to lie to you.”

Trippier followed up his World Cup goal by scoring a free-kick for Spurs in their Premier League win over Fulham last month, and he is now sharing set-piece duties at club level with Christian Eriksen.

“To be fair to Christian we had a bit of banter about free-kicks and stuff as soon as we walked in [for pre-season training],” he said.

“In the last few games we’ve been sharing them out a little bit because of the opposition and which delivery can hurt them the most.

“It’s all about the confidence at the time. Everyone knows how good Christian is at set plays and delivering a ball but against Fulham I just felt confident, first game back, and I said to him ‘do you mind if I take this one?’ He said ‘no problem’ – and I managed to score it.”

Trippier has established himself for club and country thanks to his consistent performances on the right flank but, asked about the possibility of being dropped by England manager Gareth Southgate, the 27-year-old replied: “Obviously, all the boys are doing well here and for their clubs, so that’s the manager’s decision, if I play or don’t play.

“Every opportunity on the playing field I try and do my best 100 per cent to show the manager that I want to play and just keep improving but it’s the manager’s decision at the end of the day on who he selects.

“So, if I don’t play I’m not going to be disappointed, I’ll help my team-mates, but I’ll be training as hard as I can to make sure I am picked.”

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