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Bayern Munich return to top after beating Dortmund

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Bayern Munich went back to the top of the Bundesliga on Saturday, defeating Borussia Dortmund 4-2 at home to give Thomas Tuchel a winning start as coach of the Bavarian giants.
A shocking own goal from Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel, as well as two trademark poacher’s finishes from Thomas Mueller had Bayern 3-0 up by the 25th minute.

Kingsley Coman added a fourth shortly after half-time to send Bayern two points clear of the visitors despite two late consolation goals.
“We need the desire to get better, because we have to get better,” Tuchel said, although he praised his side’s “desire to fight for the ball”.

“It was the result we absolutely wanted.”
Dortmund came into the match in the unfamiliar position of first place, one point ahead of Bayern, who fired coach Julian Nagelsmann in favour of Tuchel last week.

Tuchel, who won a German Cup title during a two-year stint in charge of Dortmund, only had one training session with Bayern but it was Kobel who gifted them a flying start in the 13th minute.

The ‘keeper, who returned after a five-week injury layoff, charged out of his box to try and clear Dayot Upamecano’s long pass, but could only make the faintest of contacts with the ball before watching helplessly as it rolled into the net.

Mueller scored from a corner just five minutes later and pounced when Kobel spilled Leroy Sane’s shot five minutes after that.
“Sometimes there are crap days and today was one of them,” Kobel told Germany’s Sky, blaming himself for the defeat.

But Dortmund coach Edin Terzic backed his ‘keeper, saying: “We can’t forget that this man is the reason we were on top of the table.”
Unlike earlier in the season when Dortmund came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home with Bayern, there would be no miracle comeback this time around, with Coman sliding the ball under Kobel early in the second half.

Emre Can converted a consolation penalty after Serge Gnabry fouled Jude Bellingham in the box, while Dutch forward Donyell Malen added a second for Dortmund in the last minute of normal time.

Munich have won their last nine home league matches against Dortmund, scoring 37 goals and conceding just eight in the process.
Dortmund will need to regroup after the defeat, their first league loss in 2023, ahead of their German Cup quarter-final at RB Leipzig on Wednesday.

Bayern face Freiburg twice in the space of a week, once at home in the Cup on Tuesday and then away in the league on Saturday.

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Chelsea targets Leicester’s Enzo Maresca for Managerial Role

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Chelsea is in discussions to appoint Leicester’s Enzo Maresca as their new head coach, as reported by British media.

Maresca, an Italian who was Pep Guardiola’s assistant at Manchester City until last year, has successfully led Leicester back to the Premier League after their relegation a year ago.

Chelsea officials are reportedly impressed by his football style. According to Sky Sports on Monday, the Blues have requested permission from Leicester to speak directly to Maresca, whom they consider their top choice.

Chelsea is searching for a new manager after parting ways with Mauricio Pochettino.

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Southampton returns to Premier league after beating Leeds In Play-off Final

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Southampton secured their promotion back to the Premier League after a one-year absence, with Adam Armstrong’s goal clinching a 1-0 victory against Leeds in the Championship play-off final on Sunday.

Armstrong’s first-half goal at Wembley helped Southampton erase the disappointment of last season’s relegation, marking their immediate return to the top flight.

This victory, in football’s richest match, is expected to bring Southampton around £140 million ($178 million) due to increases in matchday, broadcast, and commercial revenue associated with Premier League clubs. According to financial experts Deloitte, Southampton could eventually earn up to £305 million if they manage to stay up next season.

While the financial boost is significant, the real motivation for Southampton was the prestige of competing against top-tier teams like Manchester City and Arsenal, rather than second-tier sides such as Plymouth and Oxford. This hunger to reclaim their Premier League status has driven their efforts after a year in the Championship.

Southampton, whose only major trophy is the 1976 FA Cup, had spent 11 years in the Premier League before their relegation. They hope this recent success, celebrated by over 35,000 fans at Wembley, will lead to another prolonged stay among the elite.

In their first ever play-off final, Southampton achieved their third win over Leeds this season, despite finishing three points behind them in the regular season. Southampton’s manager, Russell Martin, has gained admiration for his purist passing style, and this victory marks a significant achievement in his career.

Martin, who was managing Milton Keynes Dons in League One just three years ago, has transformed Southampton in his first season, leading the team to boast the highest possession rate in Europe’s top five leagues this season.

“I’m so pleased for the board because I wasn’t an exciting appointment for them. I finished 10th at Swansea, but we had a clear way of doing things at MK Dons and here, so their decision to hire me was brave,” Martin said. “We had to achieve this to justify their choice. I feel really emotional about it. The team has been so brave. I’m really grateful and proud of them. They deserve it.”

Securing promotion at the expense of Leeds boss Daniel Farke was particularly satisfying for Martin, who was released from his Norwich contract by Farke in 2018. This defeat is a significant setback for Farke and Leeds, who were relegated alongside Southampton last season.

Leeds had support from high-profile fans like American socialite Paris Hilton and actor Will Ferrell, a minority shareholder, but there was no fairytale ending for the club. On the 35th anniversary of the death of their legendary manager Don Revie, Leeds fell short in their fourth play-off final loss, still seeking their first Wembley win since 1992.

Leeds started strongly but Southampton weathered the early pressure and took the lead in the 24th minute. Armstrong, who had scored twice in the play-off semi-final win over West Brom, displayed his scoring prowess with his 24th goal of the season, cleverly evading the Leeds offside trap to finish Will Smallbone’s pass with a precise strike from 12 yards.

Leeds were shaken and Armstrong nearly scored again, but his shot from Smallbone’s quick free-kick was parried by Illan Meslier. Early in the second half, Leeds defender Joe Rodon’s promising run was halted by Taylor Harwood-Bellis’s crucial block.

Despite their efforts, Leeds couldn’t find an equaliser, with Daniel James’s shot hitting the bar and Alex McCarthy making a stoppage-time save to deny him, as Southampton celebrated their return to the Premier League.

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Real Madrid named World’s Most Valuable Club

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Real Madrid has been ranked as the world’s most valuable football club by Forbes for the third consecutive year, with a valuation of $6.6 billion.

The list places Real Madrid at the top with a market value of $6.6 billion (€6.08 billion), followed closely by Manchester United at $6.55 billion (€6.04 billion).

Barcelona trails significantly behind, with a market value of $5.6 billion (€5.16 billion), having seen a decline in value over recent years, especially after the departure of Lionel Messi and other high-profile players.

Liverpool and Manchester City round out the top five, valued at $5.37 billion (€4.95 billion) and $5.1 billion (€4.7 billion), respectively.

The top ten is completed by Bayern Munich, PSG, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, and Arsenal, with their valuations ranging from $5 billion to $2.6 billion.

The World’s 10 Most Valuable Football Clubs

No. 1 • $6.6 billion
Real Madrid

No. 2 • $6.55 billion
Manchester United

No. 3 • $5.6 billion
Barcelona

No. 4 • $5.37 billion
Liverpool

No. 5 • $5.1 billion
Manchester City

No. 6 • $5 billion
Bayern Munich

No. 7 • $4.4 billion
Paris Saint-Germain

No. 8 • $3.2 billion
Tottenham Hotspur

No. 10 • $2.6 billion
Arsenal

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Nigeria’s Lookman scores hattrick as Atalanta win Europa League

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Ademola Lookman scored a stunning hat-trick to lead Atalanta to a 3-0 victory over Bayer Leverkusen in the 2023/24 UEFA Europa League (UEL) final.

The Nigerian star was named player of the match as the Bergamo-based club became the first Italian team to win the UEL since its renaming in 2009.

Lookman netted twice in the first half and once in the second half at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, ending Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Three Nigerians participated in the final: Lookman spearheaded Atalanta’s attack, while Leverkusen brought on Victor Boniface and Nathan Tella as substitutes.

Atalanta started aggressively and opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Lookman fired Davide Zappacosta’s low cross into the top of the net.

The former Everton forward extended the lead in the 26th minute with an impressive goal, nutmegging Granit Xhaka before curling his shot into the top corner.

Lookman completed his hat-trick in the 75th minute, dribbling past a defender and blasting a shot into the top corner to seal a dominant final for Gian Piero Gasperini’s side.

Lookman is the first player to score a hat-trick in a UEL final and the first African to do so in a major European Cup final.

He became the seventh Nigerian to win the Europa League, joining John Obi Mikel, Victor Moses, and others as UEL champions.

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Real Madrid’s Kroos To Retire From Football After Euro 2024

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Real Madrid’s Tony Kroos has announced his retirement from football following Euro 2024.

The German midfielder, who won the 2014 World Cup with Germany, shared the news on Instagram, stating that his active career will conclude after the upcoming championship.

Kroos, 34, is aiming to secure his fifth Champions League title with Real Madrid before retiring.

He has been a pivotal figure for both Real Madrid and the German national team throughout his career.

Despite previously announcing his retirement from international football in 2021, he reversed his decision to play until Euro 2024 after discussions with Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann.

Kroos expressed his gratitude for being able to conclude his career at the peak of his performance and on his own terms.

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Despite win over Everton, Arsenal Miss Premier League Title to Man City

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Despite securing a 2-1 victory against Everton on the final day of the season, Arsenal fell short of claiming their first Premier League title since 2004.

Manchester City clinched the title for the fourth consecutive year. In a tense finale, Arsenal needed a win against Everton and for Manchester City to lose against West Ham to secure the championship.

However, despite their efforts and Kai Havertz’s late winner, Manchester City’s triumph over West Ham dashed Arsenal’s hopes.

The match saw ups and downs for Arsenal, including Idrissa Gueye’s deflected free-kick putting Everton in front, swiftly followed by Takehiro Tomiyasu’s equalizer.

Despite hitting the woodwork twice in the second half, Arsenal managed to find the winner through Havertz, albeit amidst controversy over a potential handball. Referee Michael Oliver eventually allowed the goal after reviewing the VAR footage.

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