Pep’s Perfect 10 The Tonic For Man City’s Euro Woe


Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola goes for the Premier League trophy as he prepares to celebrate their title during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola may not yet have delivered the Champions League crown Manchester City crave, but four Premier League titles in five years demonstrate a period of dominance to match his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan now has 10 league titles to his name in just 13 seasons as a senior coach across three of the toughest divisions in the world.

Few of those have been as hard-fought as City’s latest title triumph.

Guardiola’s men were pushed all the way by a Liverpool side he described as the best he has faced in his managerial career.

The Reds could still complete a treble of League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League should they see off Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.

READ ALSOMan City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

However, just as in the engrossing title tussle between the same two clubs three years ago, City’s squeaked home by a point thanks to a dramatic fightback from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on the final day.

Recognition of Guardiola’s achievements at City often comes with the caveats of the huge resources at his disposal and consistent failings to convert domestic dominance into European success since leaving Barcelona a decade ago.

“If we don’t win it in my final period here, I will be a failure,” Guardiola said last month, speaking about his Champions League record.

But his ability to construct sides capable of rising to the relentless demands of winning a title over 38 games is unmatched.

The 51-year-old has laughed off suggestions he could match former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson’s longevity.

But only Ferguson’s haul of 13 Premier League titles in 27 years at Old Trafford comes close to matching Guardiola’s strike rate in Europe’s toughest leagues.

“Pep is the best coach in the world,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp last month. “I think we would all agree on that and it might be a coincidence that it didn’t work out in the Champions League so far.

“If anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen.”

City infrastructure 

City’s long-term strategy of building the infrastructure of the club around Guardiola, even prior to his arrival, has been thoroughly vindicated.

Director of football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano were plucked from Barcelona with the aim of luring Guardiola to England.

Guardiola was burned out by the demands of the job at Barcelona after four seasons and cut short his time at Bayern after three years.

By contrast, he has stayed at City now for six seasons and will be around for at least a seventh.

Backed by the state wealth of Abu Dhabi, Guardiola has been given the money to assemble one of the most expensive squads in football history.

However, there are limits to that spending power as City found out last year.

Tottenham would not let Harry Kane go despite City’s interest and the England captain’s desire to leave.

The English champions have already swooped to fulfil their need for a striker for next season by beating off competition from other leading clubs in Europe to sign Erling Haaland.

But Guardiola had to make do without a natural finisher this season and still conjured up the top-scoring team in the Premier League.

Most importantly, he also held onto the trophy he values more than any other.

“I would say it’s more difficult,” said Guardiola on Premier League glory compared with winning the Champions League.

“There’s a lot of weeks and games, struggles with injuries, good and bad moments with different situations, tough opponents.

“It’s satisfying because it’s every day. When you fight for the Premier League and have success right at the end, it gives you a sense that you enjoy a lot. We are happier in our lives when you win.”

The fear for the rest of the Premier League is that with Haaland’s arrival, City look likely to get even stronger.

After three league titles at Barca and Bayern, Guardiola has a fourth in England and his grip on the Premier League is only getting tighter.

AFP

Bayern Munich Confirm Lewandowski Wants To Leave

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring during the UEFA Champions League Group E football match between FC Bayern Munich and FC Dynamo Kyiv in Munich, southern Germany, on September 29, 2021. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

 

Robert Lewandowski banged in his 35th league goal on the final day of the Bundesliga season Saturday as Bayern Munich confirmed their top-scoring striker wants to leave, amid reports he could join Barcelona this summer.

Lewandowki scored for the Bundesliga champions in a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic insists Lewandowski will play for them next season, pointing out: “‘Lewy’ has a contract until June 2023.”

But German media outlets claim the 33-year-old has refused to sign an extension and wants to join Barcelona for next season.

READ ALSO: Ronaldo, Mane Missing As EPL Unveils Player of The Season Nominees

Salihamidzic confirmed that Lewandowksi wants to leave. “During conversations, he informed me that he did not want to accept our offer to extend the contract and would like to leave,” he said.

A crisp Lewandowski header from a Thomas Mueller cross put Bayern 2-0 up after defender Josip Stanisic netted his first Bundesliga goal for the visitors.

Wolfsburg clawed their way back as Danish forward Jonas Wind scored, then veteran striker Max Kruse levelled for the hosts.

Erling Haaland signed off his final appearance for second-placed Borussia Dortmund in a 2-1 home win over Hertha Berlin.

The Norwegian star is set to complete a long-awaited move to Manchester City for next season.

Haaland equalised from the penalty spot in the second half to cancel out Ishak Belfodil’s early goal for Hertha at Signal Iduna Park.

Dortmund’s 17-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko came off the bench and grabbed the winner, just seconds after replacing Axel Witsel.

Haaland applauded home fans after the final whistle while Dortmund also said goodbye to sports director Michael Zorc.

The defeat pushed Hertha into 16th, which means a two-legged relegation play-off against the team which finishes third in the second division, currently Hamburg.

“The boys are totally exhausted and worked up,” said Hertha sports director Fredi Bobic.

“They must now have the belief to pull it together in these two games.”

Endo rescues Stuttgart

There were dramatic scenes in Stuttgart where Japan midfielder Wataru Endo scored a stoppage-time winner to seal a 2-1 win over Cologne.

The win saw Stuttgart claw their way to 15th and guaranteed survival next season.

Stuttgart striker Sasa Kalajdzic made amends for having a first-half penalty saved by heading in the resulting corner 26 seconds later.

Cologne equalised when veteran French striker Anthony Modeste headed in his 20th goal of the season until Endo struck.

Stuttgart fans stormed the pitch at the final whistle to kick off the celebrations.

“It feels good, but I have a sore head from all the shouting and celebrating,” said head coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.

“It was a great moment. I’m so happy for the boys. You never forget a moment like today.”

Cologne finish seventh to qualify for the Europa Conference League.

Union Berlin will play in the Europa League next season after finishing fifth after Nigeria striker Taiwo Awoniyi netted twice to seal a 3-2 win.

Union raced into a 2-0 lead as Grischa Proemel gave the hosts an early lead before Awoniyi converted a penalty.

Bochum roared back as Simon Zoller headed in a goal, then Eduard Loewen levelled before Awoniyi grabbed a late winner.

Freiburg finished sixth and punched their Europa League ticket despite losing 2-1 at Bayer Leverkusen, whose Argentinian defender Exequiel Palacios scored the winner seven minutes into stoppage time.

Arminia Bielefeld joined Greuther Fuerth in being relegated from Germany’s top flight despite a 1-1 draw at RB Leipzig, who finished fourth and qualified for the Champions League.

Germany midfielder Jonas Hofmann scored twice as Borussia Moenchengladbach thrashed Hoffenheim 5-1.

Brazil defender Tutu and Colombia striker Rafael Borre hit the net as Eintracht Frankfurt tuned up for Wednesday’s Europa League final against Rangers with a 2-2 draw at Mainz.

 

AFP

Bayern Munich Win 10th Straight Bundesliga Title

Bayern Munich's German midfielder Jamal Musiala (2nd L) celebrates scoring the 3-1 goal with his teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v BVB Borussia Dortmund in Munich, southern Germany on April 23, 2022. KERSTIN JOENSSON / AFP
Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Jamal Musiala (2nd L) celebrates scoring the 3-1 goal with his teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich v BVB Borussia Dortmund in Munich, southern Germany on April 23, 2022. KERSTIN JOENSSON / AFP

 

Bayern Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions for the 10th consecutive season on Saturday after a 3-1 home win over second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

First-half goals by Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski put Bayern in control at a sold-out Allianz Arena before Emre Can converted a penalty after the break for Dortmund.

But teenager Jamal Musiala fired in a late goal to spark early celebrations in the home crowd.

READ ALSO: Jesus Scores Four As Leaders Man City Crush Watford

This is the first time a club has won 10 straight titles in one of Europe’s top five leagues.

The Bavarian giants’ eighth successive win over Dortmund leaves Bayern an unassailable 12 points clear with three games left.

Bayern dominated the opening half and Gnabry fired a magnificent volley into the top corner from the edge of the box to give them a 15th-minute lead.

Gnabry had a second effort disallowed before Lewandowski doubled the advantage 11 minutes before half-time.

It was the Poland striker’s 27th goal in 26 matches against Dortmund, who he left for Bayern in 2014.

Dortmund responded early in the second half as Can converted a penalty after Marco Reus was brought down in the area.

The visitors had their appeals for another spot-kick waved away with 30 minutes left when Lucas Hernandez brought Jude Bellingham down in the area.

Lewandowski won the battle of the Bundesliga’s star strikers as Erling Haaland, who has been linked with big-money move to Manchester City, failed to score despite forcing Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer into two late saves.

Musiala put the result beyond doubt when he slotted home seconds after his initial shot was saved by Dortmund keeper Marwin Hitz.

Late Union goals stun Leipzig

Earlier, Union Berlin scored two late goals to poach a 2-1 win at RB Leipzig, which kept alive their Champions League qualification hopes.

Bayer Leverkusen thumped bottom club Greuther Fuerth 4-1 to take third place from Leipzig and move three points clear of fifth-placed Freiburg in the race for the top four.

Freiburg missed the chance to draw level on points with Leipzig, conceding a late equaliser in a 3-3 draw with Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Union are just two points further back in sixth, with five clubs, including seventh-placed Cologne, separated by just six points with three games remaining in the battle to reach next season’s Champions League group stage.

Yussuf Poulsen put Leipzig ahead early in the second half to put the hosts on course for their second win in four days over Union, who they beat 2-1 in the German Cup semi-finals on Wednesday.

However, Union avenged the cup defeat as substitutes Sven Michel and then Kevin Behrens scored in the 86th and 88th minutes.

The defeat ended Leipzig’s unbeaten run of 15 games in all competitions, ahead of their Europa League semi-final, first leg at home to Rangers on Thursday.

Union are bidding to reach the Champions League for the first time in just their third season since being promoted to the Bundesliga.

Freiburg, also hoping for a maiden appearance in Europe’s premier competition, looked set to pile the pressure on Leipzig as they fought back from 2-0 down at half-time to lead Gladbach.

But Lars Stindl struck for the away side in the third minute of injury time.

Fuerth were finally relegated after their loss to Leverkusen, having been last in the table since September.

Eintracht Frankfurt, who visit West Ham on Thursday in their Europa League semi-final first leg, conceded a late equaliser to draw 2-2 at home to Hoffenheim.

 

AFP

Chukwueze Scores As Villarreal Dump Bayern Out Of Champions League

Villarreal's Nigerian midfielder Samuel Chukwueze celebrates scoring the 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg football match FC Bayern Munich v FC Villarreal in Munich, southern Germany on April 12, 2022. Jose Jordan / AFP
Villarreal’s Nigerian midfielder Samuel Chukwueze celebrates scoring the 1-1 during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final, second leg football match FC Bayern Munich v FC Villarreal in Munich, southern Germany on April 12, 2022. Jose Jordan / AFP

 

Villarreal dumped Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Tuesday, Samuel Chukwueze’s 88th-minute strike at the Allianz Arena giving the Spaniards a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their quarter-final tie that took them through 2-1 on aggregate.

Robert Lewandowski had put Bayern ahead on the night to level the tie on aggregate after Villarreal’s 1-0 first-leg win, and extra time loomed until Chukwueze struck.

The result means Bayern Munich exit the Champions League in the quarter-finals for the second year running.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Loses Monte Carlo Opener

Villarreal are into the semi-finals for the first time since 2006 and will play either Liverpool or Benfica in the last four. The English side take a 3-1 lead into Wednesday’s second leg at Anfield.

Unai Emery’s Villarreal soaked up everything Bayern threw at their defence, aside from Lewandowski’s strike early in the second half.

It was a heart-breaking night for Bayern, who dominated for most of the match before Chukwueze scored just four minutes after coming on.

Bayern started with urgency, but the Villarreal defence was alert to every threat.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann changed formation, opting for a three-man defence instead of a back four.

Villarreal were pinned in their own half for most of the first half as Benjamin Pavard, Dayot Upamecano and Lucas Hernandez dictated play from the back.

Yet for all their domination of possession, a header by Jamal Musiala straight at Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was Bayern’s only clear chance of a goalless first half.

Lewandowski, who was largely well marshalled, earned the first booking of the game.

The Villarreal back four worked tirelessly throughout, but left-back Pervis Estupinan had a particularly busy first half as Leroy Sane constantly probed down the flank.

Bayern finally broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute.

A loose pass out of defence only got as far as Kingsley Coman, who moved the ball to Thomas Mueller.

The Germany star slipped the ball into the path of Lewandowski, who managed to get his shot past two defenders and the diving Rulli.

The Poland striker let out a primal scream to celebrate his 13th goal in 10 Champions League games this season.

Bayern kept up the pressure as Mueller went close with a diving header and was left with his head in his hands, as was Coman when he fired over soon after.

Nagelsmann sent on some fresh legs in a bid to get a decisive second goal inside the 90 minutes by bringing on Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies.

However, Villarreal stunned the home crowd when Gerard Moreno broke down the left.

He put in a low cross which Chukwueze sent spinning over Neuer to send the Spaniards through.

Emery’s Villarreal Eye Another Giant-Killing At Bayern Munich

Villareal’s players celebrate at the end of during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg football match between Villarreal CF and Bayern Munich at La Ceramica stadium in Vila-real on April 6, 2022. Pierre-Philippe MARCOU / AFP

 

“We’ve beaten one of the best teams in the world,” said captain Dani Parejo after Villarreal secured a 1-0 victory over Bayern Munich in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final last week. But he knows it might not be enough.

Villarreal enjoyed one of the finest nights in the club’s history with a superb performance at La Ceramica that caught the six-time European champions cold.

Unai Emery’s side will take a one-goal lead into Tuesday’s second leg in Germany, yet the overriding feeling was regret as a series of missed chances kept Bayern alive.

READ ALSO: Chelsea Face ‘Incredibly High’ Challenge To Stay In Champions League – Tuchel

“We produced a tremendous performance and if we’re honest we should have won by more,” said Villarreal midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.

Instead, a one-goal deficit is far from insurmountable for a team that has scored 17 goals in their last five games at home and 20 in their last four European matches at the Allianz Arena.

Villarreal have made a habit of neutralising glamorous opponents, even if their La Liga position of seventh shows they can struggle against modest opposition.

While Emery’s forensic analysis and in-depth video sessions might stifle the spontaneity needed to beat limited sides, it means his team are tactically astute and difficult to break down.

In the past year, Villarreal have beaten the Europa League champions, the Coppa Italia winners, the Bundesliga champions and the FA Cup winners. They also defeated Manchester United to win last season’s Europa League.

In Spain, they are unbeaten this season against defending champions Atletico Madrid and leaders Real Madrid.

After the stunning 3-0 victory in Turin that knocked out Juventus in the last 16, Villarreal will believe they can complete the job in Germany and reach the club’s first Champions League semi-final since 2006.

Win or lose in Munich, the win against Bayern in the home leg will go down in the Villarreal history books.

‘Biggest challenge’ 

While Bayern were winning a third consecutive European Cup in 1976, Villarreal were being relegated to the fourth tier in Spain. When Bayern won their fifth in 2013, Villarreal had just been promoted back to the top flight.

The population of Vila-real, at just over 50,000, could fit inside Bayern’s stadium with 25,000 seats to spare. No smaller town has produced a team to win a European title.

For the majority of their history Villarreal lay in the third division until Spanish billionaire Fernando Roig took over in 1998.

Roig has improved the stadium, the training ground and the team. Villarreal signed players such as Riquelme, Diego Forlan, Marcos Senna and Santi Cazorla.

They have been a fixture in the top flight for all but one of the 22 seasons this century.

With stability secured, Emery was hired to take the team to the next level, challenge for trophies and La Liga’s top four.

They have disappointed in the league but cup success has kept Emery’s stock high. He was tempted by the Newcastle job in November but turned it down, the prospect of a European run too tantalising.

Similar reasoning kept local-born star defender Pau Torres at the club he joined as a five-year-old, despite interest last summer from Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.

The only question now is whether the momentous win over Bayern Munich will be remembered as the pinnacle of an incredible run, or the basis for something more.

“Tuesday will be the biggest challenge of my career as coach,” Emery said. “And for the club as well, for the players, for lots of people here.”

AFP

Lewandowski Fires Bayern Into Champions League Last Eight With 7-1 Win Over Salzburg

Bayern Munich's Polish forward Robert Lewandowski scores from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League last-16, second-leg football match FC Bayern Munich vs RB Salzburg in Munich, southern Germany on March 8, 2022. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP
Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski scores from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions League last-16, second-leg football match FC Bayern Munich vs RB Salzburg in Munich, southern Germany on March 8, 2022. CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

 

Robert Lewandowski scored a record-breaking 11-minute hat-trick to send Bayern Munich sailing into the Champions League quarter-finals with a 7-1 win at home to Red Bull Salzburg on Tuesday.

The Polish striker had three goals to his name by the 23rd minute — the earliest anyone has ever completed a hat-trick in a Champions League game — as Bayern shook off their early nerves to crush Salzburg.

The Austrian champions had held Bayern to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, but their hopes of an upset in Munich were left in tatters when Lewandowski scored a tap-in and two penalties to send Bayern on their way to a famous victory.

With just ten minutes and 27 seconds between Lewandowski’s first and third goals, it was the fastest of the six hat-tricks the Pole has now scored in the Champions League.

Bayern started with an attack-heavy 3-5-2, but they looked nervy at the back and there were chances at both ends in the opening minutes.

Lewandowski forced a sharp save from Philipp Koehn with the first attack of the game, while Nicolas Capaldo was denied at the other end by a brilliant block from Kingsley Coman.

Lewandowski gratefully tucked away a penalty to give Bayern the lead on 12 minutes after he was brought down by Maximilian Woeber in the box.

Initially, the lead didn’t seem to calm Bayern’s nerves, and Salzburg almost equalised as Nicolas Seiwald fizzed a fierce shot over the bar at the other end.

But Lewandowski was in a predatory mood, and he soon added two more to complete his hat-trick and put the tie beyond the Austrian side.

Having smashed a second penalty into the bottom corner to double the lead, he added a third on the counter-attack, chasing a loose ball over the line after a one-on-one with Koehn.

Bayern were now purring, and Serge Gnabry drilled home a crushingly inevitable fourth after an elegant passing move on the half-hour mark.

Thomas Mueller curled a brilliant shot into the bottom corner to make it 5-0 shortly after half time, before Bayern switched on cruise control.

The guests grabbed a consolation goal with a clinical counter-attack 20 minutes from time, 18-year-old Dane Maurits Kjaergaard smashing a Geoff-Hurst-like finish into the top corner past Manuel Neuer.

But the hosts had the last word as Mueller stroked home his second and Lewandowski set up Sane for Bayern’s seventh a few minutes from time.

AFP

‘Like A Dream’: Bayern Slump To Shock Defeat At Bochum

Bayern Munich's German forward Thomas Mueller (C) reacts to a missed chance during the German first division Bundesliga football match between VfL Bochum and FC Bayern Munich in Bochum, western Germany on February 12, 2022. Ina Fassbender / AFP
Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller (C) reacts to a missed chance during the German first division Bundesliga football match between VfL Bochum and FC Bayern Munich in Bochum, western Germany on February 12, 2022. Ina Fassbender / AFP

 

Bayern Munich midfielder Joshua Kimmich said his side need to question their mentality after they slumped to a shock 4-2 loss at Bundesliga minnows Bochum ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Red Bull Salzburg.

Bayern conceded four goals in the first half for the first time in a Bundesliga match since 1975 as promoted Bochum rampaged to victory, leaving the perennial champions stunned.

“This was our worst performance of the season. We need to ask ourselves whether this is the mentality which Bayern Munich embodies,” a dejected Kimmich told Sky.

READ ALSO: Havertz Extra-Time Penalty Secures Chelsea Club World Cup Title

“Luckily it’s happened in a Bundesliga match this time, but we have a Champions League game on Wednesday,” he added.

Bayern had not lost to Bochum since 2004 ahead of this game, and beat them 7-0 when the two teams last met in September.

When Robert Lewandowski bundled in the opener for Bayern on nine minutes, it seemed it would be a normal afternoon for the perennial champions.

But Bochum equalised quickly through Christopher Antwi-Adjei, before taking control in a frenzied 10 minutes before the break.

Juergen Locadia gave the hosts the lead from the penalty spot after a Dayot Upamecano handball, and unsettled Bayern wilted under pressure.

Cristian Gamboa smashed the ball into the top corner from the edge of the area two minutes later, before Holtmann curled in another brilliant long-range effort on the stroke of half-time.

“My first Bundesliga goal, and it comes against Bayern. It’s like a dream!” Gamboa told Sky.

Lewandowski pulled a goal back in the second half, but it was too little for Bayern to avoid a fourth league defeat of the season.

After a week in which German football discussed a play-off format to combat Bayern’s relentless dominance, recently promoted Bochum delivered a brutal reminder that the champions are not unbeatable.

Yet Bayern remain nine points clear at the top of the table overnight, ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s trip to Union Berlin on Sunday.

Fuerth grab rare win

In-form Bayer Leverkusen remain third after they eased to a 4-2 win over Stuttgart.

Leverkusen had scored ten goals in their previous two games, but were held at bay by a dogged Stuttgart defence until Moussa Diaby slalomed through the box to score the opener just before half time.

New Portuguese signing Tiago Tomas brought Stuttgart level with his first Bundesliga goal, but Amine Adli immediately restored the lead at a free-kick.

Florian Wirtz extended the lead five minutes from time, threading a crafty low shot through a flurry of legs and into the bottom corner.

Tomas gave Stuttgart fresh hope with an instinctive finish at the other end, before Patrik Schick sealed the win with a tap-in.

Elsewhere, struggling giants Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach both pulled away from the relegation zone with timely wins.

Wolfsburg beat former coach Oliver Glasner with a 2-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt, a Max Kruse penalty and a late goal from Dodi Lukebakio handing them a second successive win.

Manu Kone and Jonas Hofmann gave Gladbach a comfortable lead, before Iago pulled a goal back for fellow strugglers Augsburg.

Ramy Bensebaini restored the two-goal lead before Alfred Finnbogason snatched a late consolation goal.

Bottom club Greuther Fuerth gave themselves hope in the relegation fight with only their third win of the season against Hertha Berlin.

Branimir Hrgota opened the scoring after just 27 seconds and doubled the lead with a second-half penalty before Hertha’s Linus Gechter scored his first Bundesliga goal late on.

Freiburg leapfrogged Union Berlin into fifth with a 1-1 draw at home to Mainz, substitute Nils Petersen cancelling out Alexander Hack’s first-half opener.

AFP

Lewandowski Wins Striker Of The Year At 2021 Ballon d’Or Awards

Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski reacts on stage after being awarded the Striker of the Year award at the 2021 Ballon d’Or France Football award ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on November 29, 2021. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Bayern Munich’s Roberto Lewandowski has won the Striker of the Year prize at the 2021 Ballon d’Or awards. 

The event is currently taking place in Paris, the French capital.  The Polish striker is also in the running for the 2021 Ballon d’Or prize and needs to see off competition from Argentine superstar, Lionel Messi, to take home the award.

READ ALSO: Pedri, Donnarumma Claim Prizes At 2021 Ballon d’Or Ceremony

The Bayern Munich striker pilfered a Bundesliga record of 41 goals in just 29 games last season to eclipse the long-standing mark set by the late Gerd Mueller.

Lewandowski, 33, scooped FIFA’s prize for best male player of 2020 and has the backing of both coach Julian Nagelsmann and Bayern team-mate Thomas Mueller after a prolific start to the new campaign.

Already, the player has scored 25 times in 20 appearances this season.

Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have combined to win 11 of the past 12 editions of the Ballon d’Or, the lone exception in 2018 when Luka Modric helped Real Madrid to another Champions League triumph and inspired Croatia to the World Cup final.

 

Mueller Apologises To Bayern Fans After Humiliating Defeat To Moenchengladbach 

(L-R) Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Serge Gnabry, Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich’s German forward Thomas Mueller, Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Leon Goretzka react during the German Cup (DFB Pokal) 2nd round football match Borussia Moenchengladbach v FC Bayern Munich in Moenchengladbach, Western Germany, on October 27, 2021. Ina Fassbender / AFP

 

Bayern Munich veteran Thomas Mueller has apologised to their fans and admitted the 5-0 thrashing at Moenchengladbach in the German Cup was the worst defeat he has experienced during 13 years playing in the famous red shirt.

“We were picked apart from A to Z in the first half,” the 32-year-old Mueller, who made his Bayern debut in 2008 and is approaching 600 appearances for the Bavarian giants, told ARD.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything like that before in an FC Bayern shirt. We have to apologise to our fans.”

A full-strength Bayern team was pole-axed Wednesday when Gladbach took the lead at Borussia Park with barely a minute gone.

After Kouadio Kone’s early goal, Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini netted twice to make it 3-0 at half-time.

Bayern’s bright start to the second-half was obliterated when Swiss striker Breel Embolo scored two rapid-fire goals.

Furious Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic described the visitors’ performance as “a collective blackout — we simply didn’t turn up”.

Gladbach fans started celebrating long before the final whistle as the song ‘Oh, wie ist das schoen’ (Oh, how beautiful this is) echoed around the stands.

“Of course, this was a disgrace for us,” added Mueller who said the Bayern team sat stunned in the dressing room afterwards.

“We had a lot planned. We tried to somehow pick ourselves up, but I don’t think you saw that on TV.”

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Moenchengladbach’s Swiss goalkeeper Yann Sommer (R) and his teammates react after the German Cup (DFB Pokal) 2nd round football match Borussia Moenchengladbach v FC Bayern Munich in Moenchengladbach, Western Germany, on October 27, 2021. Ina Fassbender / AFP

 

Bayern had plenty of off-field distractions in the build-up.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann was sidelined at home, isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.

Defender Lucas Hernandez discovered the morning of the second-round cup tie that he will escape jail in Spain despite violating a restraining order in 2017.

Midfielder Joshua Kimmich has been heavily criticised in the German media after opting against being vaccinated for Covid-19.

Nevertheless, those factors do little to explain a dreadful team performance as Bayern suffered their heaviest cup defeat in club history.

A backlash is expected away on Saturday in the Bundesliga when Bayern play at Union Berlin, who are unbeaten in their last 21 home league games.

“People are used to us showing a reaction after negative experiences. But that’s easy to say,” said Mueller.

“Normally, we are also used to reacting differently after falling behind.”

Nagelsmann’s assistant coach Dino Toppmoeller promised improvement.

“We will certainly have to live with gloating and ridicule in the next day or two. That’s the business,” he said.

“But we have to brush ourselves off and show a reaction on Saturday. That will come — for sure.”

AFP

Bayern Hit Seven Past Bochum To Go Top Of Bundesliga

Bayern Munich’s striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting reacts after scoring the 7-0 during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfL Bochum in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

 

Bayern Munich topped the Bundesliga for the first time this season with a 7-0 thrashing of Bochum on Saturday as Robert Lewandowski scored for a record 13th consecutive home league game.

Joshua Kimmich netted twice while Lewandowski poached a second-half goal to claim another league record as Leroy Sane, Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting all scored for Bayern.

Greek defender Vasilios Lampropoulos scored a first-half own goal as Bochum ran out of luck at the Allianz Arena.

“Bochum worked hard, but everything went right for us after the first goal,” Sane told Sky.

Bayern will lose top spot if Wolfsburg maintain their 100 percent record with a fifth straight win on Sunday against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern have won their last seven games, scoring at least three goals on each occasion, with Dortmund, Leipzig and Barcelona on the list of defeated opponents.

Bochum, who have now won just once in 35 games at Bayern, were 4-0 down at half-time.

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“We were just really up for it,” said Bochum-born Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka, who extended his contract in mid-week until 2026.

“It was fun for us. Not so much for Bochum which I regret, personally.”

Bayern head coach Julian Nagelsmann made three changes from starting side which won at Barcelona on Tuesday and was pleased with the “manner of the win. None of our goals came from being greedy, we’re on the right path.”

 Sane on song

It was a gala afternoon for Sane, who had been whistled by disgruntled Bayern fans during the Bavarian giants’ opening games this season after a series of below-par performances.

The 25-year-old has since flourished with five assists and three goals in the last five games and also netted twice for Germany during this month’s World Cup qualifiers.

The ex-Manchester City winger started the rout by curling in a spectacular free-kick over a wall of defenders from 30 yards out.

 

Bayern Munich’s striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (C) reacts after scoring the 7-0 during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfL Bochum in Munich, southern Germany, on September 18, 2021. (Photo by Christof STACHE / AFP)

 

Sane then laid on a cross which Kimmich fired past Bochum goalkeeper Manuel Riemann.

Gnabry made it 3-0 by finishing a counter-attack and guiding his shot inside the far post.

Bochum’s luck had completely deserted them when Lampropoulos intercepted a pass to Lewandowski, only to roll the ball into his own goal.

It was 45 years to the day since Bayern recovered from 4-0 down at half-time in Bochum to claim a stunning 6-5 win, but there was to be no fairytale revenge on Saturday.

Sane again dribbled into the box, rolled a pass to Gnabry, who flicked the ball onto Lewandowski to tap in and claim his latest Bundesliga record after scoring a new milestone of 41 goals in Germany’s top flight last season.

Kimmich slotted home a towering Goretzka header before Lewandowski’s replacement Choupo-Moting found the net at the third attempt after his first two shots were saved.

Thomas Mueller had a late goal ruled offside. which was little comfort for Bochum, who suffered their heaviest Bundesliga defeat.

Leipzig held at Cologne

Three days after their 6-3 mauling at Manchester City in the Champions League, RB Leipzig were made to work for a 1-1 draw at Cologne.

Anthony Modeste gave Cologne a second-half lead after he and team-mate Mark Uth both had efforts ruled offside.

The VAR also spotted an offside when Leipzig playmaker Emil Forsberg put the ball in the net before Malian midfielder Amadou Haidara headed the visitors level.

Leipzig have now taken just four points from a possible 15 from their first five league games under new head coach Jesse Marsch.

AFP

Lewandowski Retains German Player Of The Year Award

File photo of Lewandowski. [email protected] Bayern Munich

 

Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski was voted Germany’s Footballer of the Year for the second year running on Sunday.  

The 32-year-old Pole was once again the runaway winner of the title awarded by the football magazine Kicker, following a vote by journalists.

Lewandowski, who equalled Gerd Mueller’s 49-year-old scoring record in May as he netted his 41st Bundesliga goal of the season, received 356 of the 563 votes on offer.

“I am aware of how big this honour is. It is a reason for great pride and joy for me, because it is rare to win the title of Footballer of the Year in Germany twice in a row,” Lewandowski said.

Second-placed Thomas Mueller of Bayern Munich was 315 votes behind, while third place went to Erling Haaland of Borussia Dortmund, who received 38 votes.

“Of course I am happy that I have scored 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga games. This number of goals fills me with great pride and is certainly a spectacular achievement in view of my injury,” said Lewandowski, who was out for three weeks from late March with a knee problem.

Lewandowski’s former manager Hansi Flick, who was named the second-best manager behind Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel, said he was an “absolute professional with enormous quality” and “the best there is as a centre-forward”.

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Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates with the trophy for the leading goal scorer of the Bundesliga season after the German first division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich vs FC Augsburg in Munich, southern Germany, on May 22, 2021. (Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE / POOL / AFP)

 

Since joining Bayern in 2014, Lewandowski has scored 203 goals in 219 games.

In 2020-21, he was the architect of Bayern’s 31st German league championship win, their ninth consecutive Bundesliga title.

Lewandowski has netted over 500 goals for his clubs and country since starting his career.

Voted FIFA’s best male player of 2020, the goal-scoring sensation also won the European Golden Shoe, beating out Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

AFP

Bayern Munich Expect Losses Of 150m Euros Due To COVID-19

File photo: Bayern Munich’s Polish forward Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart in Munich, southern Germany, on March 20, 2021. (Photo by ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP) / DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO

 

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich said on Monday they expect the Covid-19 pandemic to cost them 150 million euros ($178 million) in lost match-day revenue.

Just a few hundred fans were allowed in for their final game last season, the only Bayern match at the Allianz Arena where spectators have been admitted since the pandemic first hit Germany in March 2020.

Bayern president Herbert Hainer confirmed the forecasted loss after so many games behind closed doors, but insisted “our ambitions have not diminished”.

The new Bundesliga season starts on August 13 and Bayern hope health regulations in Bavaria will allow a limited number of fans to watch their first home game against Cologne on August 21 at the 75,000-capacity stadium.

The club’s new chairman and CEO Oliver Kahn said they want fans back in the stadium as soon as possible “but safety remains the priority”.

Kahn also stated next season’s target is to win a tenth straight Bundesliga title, “that’s our big goal. It’s never been done before in the top European leagues”.

In-coming new coach Julian Nagelsmann is tasked with keeping Bayern top of the German league.

Kahn also revealed the club is in contract-extension talks with midfielders Leon Goretzka and Kingsley Coman.

Goretkza has a year left on his contract, Coman has two, but both are “very, very important players”, Kahn said, who have been offered “generous” packages.

Kahn admitted Bayern are eager to avoid a repeat of last season when David Alaba refused to sign an extension and left to join Real Madrid for free after his contract expired.

AFP