11/06/20 – Champs League Match Day 3, EPL Big Games, US Men play Wed/Nov 16 2:45 pm FS1, International Break next week

Games this Week on TV

Early morning Sat on NBCSN as Everto and Man United start things at 7:30 am.  Chelsea with Pulisic still injured will travel to Sheffield United for a 12:30 Sat 12:30 pm game.  Of course also at 12:30 on ESPN +  Is the premier game in the German Bundesliga Bayern Munich and American defender Chris Richards traveling to Dortmund and American Gio Reyna in a battle for the top spot in Germany.   Of course the best EPL game of the weekend is pay to watch on the Peacock as the past two EPL champs Man City faces Liverpool faces at 9 am  followed by Fulham vs Arsenal at 2:!5 pm.  Sunday early AM gives us Lazio hosting Juventus and American Aaron McKinney at 6:30 am on ESPN2, followed by West Brom vs 2nd place Tottenham on NBCSN.  Finally at 3 pm on beIN Sport Sunday – Valencia and potential US player Yunus Musah (see below) play Real Madrid.  Sunday is MLS final day of play – Decision day on ESPN+ with 2 spots in the East, the top 2 seeds in the East and playoff positioning all in play still, 1 game on network as LAFC hosts Portland at 3:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.   Zlatan amazing bike for AC Milan

USA Friendly’s Wed 2:45 FS1 vs Wales/Mon 2:45 vs Panama FS1

So huge excitement for the upcoming friendly’s with an almost entirely European group of players – many of them under the age of 23.  In fact the average age is just over 22 for this group that will take on Wales and Garreth Bale.  Doubtful that Christian Pulisic will play – but first timers Gio Reyna of Dortmund, Konrad de la Fuente from Barcelona and Sebasatian Soto of Telstar – all U20 WC players for the US should excite folks.  Also American born 18 YO winger Yunus Musah starting now at Valencia, a kid born in New York who grew up in England, has accepted the invite to check out how the US does things after representing England at the youth level.  My thoughts for the Wales game start

My 11

Weah

Lletget, Reyna, Yunus Musah

Adams, McKinney

Robinson, Brooks, Richards, Dest

Steffan

The USMNT roster

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City), Zack Steffen (Manchester City)

DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (Boavista FC), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Antonee Robinson (Fulham)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton)

FORWARDS (8): Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Uly Llanez (Heerenveen), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Sebastian Soto (Telstar), Tim Weah (Lille),

Champions League Group Stage Matchday 3 Results

Champions League only had 1 marquet matchup this week with RB Leipzig squeezing by an injured PSG 2-1 as Adams subbed on to help protect the lead in the 75th minute.  Dest helped Barcelona claim a 2-1 vs Dynamo Keiv, while Gio Reyna started and helped Dortmund to a 3-0 win over Brugge a win that moved them to the top of the table.  Champs League Standings

USL Championships Cancelled

Sure was interesting to see both USL Championship games be cancelled this past weekend.  The Tampa Bay Rowdies were to host the Phoenix Rising Sunday night on ESPN before a COVID Outbreak hit the Rowdies.  I would understand a postponement but just cancelling the final after you played the adjusted season.  If player safety was the concern you shouldn’t have played this season at all.  But you did – you should end the season with a Champion – even if you have to delay the game by two weeks to do it.  Just one man’s opinion.

GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat, Nov 6 

7:30 am NBCSN                  Everton vs Man United 

9:30 am ESPN+                                  RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport                 Barcelona (Dest)  vs Real Bettis 

10 am NBCSN                      Cyrstal Palace vs

12:30 pm NBC                  Sheffield United vs Chelseas (no Pulisic) 

12:30 pm  ESppn+            Dortmund (Reyna) vs Bayern Munich (Richards) 

3 pm beiN Sport                   PSG vs Rennes

Sun, Nov 7 

6:30 am ESPN2                  Lazio vs Juventus            

7 am NBCSN                                      West Brom vs Tottenham 

9 am NBCSN                        Leicester City vs Wolves

9 am ESPN+                         Atalanta vs Inter

10:15 am beIN sport             Real Sociadad vs Granada (Sp)

11:30 am Peacock                              Man City vs Liverpool

2:15 pm Peacock                 Arsenal vs Aston Villa

3pm beIN Sport                   Valencia vs Real Madrid

Wed, Nov 12

2:45 pm FS1                      USA vs Wales

USA Friendly’s Wed 2:45 FS1 vs Wales/Mon 2:45 vs Panama FS1

How USMNT’s November Camp Pieces May All Fit Together – Avi Creditor SI
Berhalter excited by USMNT youngsters; talks Musah, Pulisic

Berhalter looks to USMNT’s future with exciting young squad  23hJeff Carlisle

USMNT to play Panama in Austria on November 16th
USMNT news: Werder Bremen won’t release Sargent due to COVID rules

Pulisic remains out injured for Chelsea

4 US Players Help Teams win in UCL  

 

MLS

Doyle: What I’m keeping an eye on for Decision Day

Boehm: Why home-field advantage still matters in these playoffs

How will it go down? Game-by-game predictions for Decision DayDecision Day: What’s at stake in the final week of the regular season

Key Races in MLS Final Day

Playoff scenarios: All the permutations for Decision Day

Playoffs on the line for Miami vs. FCC: “There’s massive pressure”

 

EPL


Manchester City – Liverpool: How to watch, team news, start time, odds, prediction

Man City face Liverpool showdown, Solskjaer under fire

Three talking points from the Premier League

Solskjaer’s defence is shaky as future hangs in the balance

Jota’s red-hot start puts Firmino under pressure

Arteta ‘proud’ as Arsenal take big step forward

Fulham beat West Brom to earn first win this season

No home comforts for Man Utd in Arsenal defeat, Bale send Spurs second

Relief, happiness as Bale is Tottenham’s match-winner again


NBC Sports Premier League schedule

·         

·        CHAMPIONS & EUROPA League  
PSG coach Tuchel dismisses speculation over future after Champions League loss to Leipzig
Barca, Juve win in Champions League as woeful Man Utd beaten
Champions League wrap: Juve wins big, Barcelona outlasts 12-save teen goalkeeper
Europa League wrap: 10-man Benfica stuns Rangers; Celtic, Milan thumped
UEL: Decisive wins for Arsenal, Spurs, Leicester City 

 

EUROPE

Barcelona’s struggles, Silva, Zlatan: European football talking points
Ronaldo to make Portugal return against France, Croatia

FIFA asked to review controversial handball rule, UEFA confirm

Lewandowski, Haaland go head-to-head in Bayern, Dortmund showdown

Klassiker, Serie A and a weakened PSG – what to look out for in Europe this weekend

Decision Day presented by AT&T: Shield, Golden Boot and playoff places come down to final day

November 2, 202012:36AM EST

Ian Nicholas QuillenContributor https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/follow_button.96fd96193cc66c3e11d4c5e4c7c7ec97.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&screen_name=IaqDiesel&show_count=false&show_screen_name=true&size=m&time=1604709643505

It’s been a long, strange trip. But on Sunday, we will finally arrive at Decision Day presented by AT&T. And although 2020 has been arguably the most unusual MLS season in history, if there’s one constant, it’s that the final day always brings big moments and high drama.

Here is what they’ll be playing for beginning in the Eastern Conference at 3:30 pm ET, and the Western Conference at 6:30 pm ET (TV and streaming info).

Eastern Conference

Two postseason berths up for grabs: It’ll be five teams battling it out for two playoff spots in the East. The Chicago Fire, D.C. United, Inter Miami, Montreal Impact and Atlanta United are all doing battle in simultaneous matches to see which two teams will claim the final two postseason tickets and a spot in the play-in round. D.C. United and Montreal will be going head-to-head. Chicago and Montreal have the inside track as they currently hold the final two spots.

No. 1 seed: It’s more or less a two-team race at the top of the Eastern Conference between the Philadelphia Union (1st place) and Toronto FC (2nd place) for the top spot.The Union are currently ahead of Toronto on a secondary tiebreaker. Philly will be at home against the New England Revolution (they’re perfect at home at 8W-0L-0D), while Toronto visit the New York Red Bulls.

First-round home games: The top four in each conference will host in the conference quarterfinal stage. New York City FC (5th place) sit just outside the top four and they will have their focus on moving up by beating Chicago Fire FC and hoping Columbus (4th place) falter.

Play-in byes: The East will have two play-in matches to kickstart the playoffs (No. 7 vs. No. 10 and No. 8 vs. No. 9). Needless to say, teams like New York Red Bulls (No. 7) and the Nashville (No. 8) will be hoping to move out of the play-in zone at New England’s expense (No. 6) and gain a few extra days of rest before conference quarterfinals.

Western Conference

No. 1 seed: It’s Sporting Kansas City (1.80 ppg), Portland Timbers (1.73 ppg), and the Seattle Sounders (1.71 ppg) fighting for West supremacy and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Sporting hold the edge and head to Utah to face a Real Salt Lake team that has already been eliminated.

First-round home games: Along with the top three, currently FC Dallas (4th place) is slated to host a first round playoff match. But the teams right behind Dallas (Minnesota United FCLAFC and Colorado Rapids) will still believe they can earn enough points in the final week to overtake FCD for the hosting privileges. 

The Supporters’ Shield

It comes down to Philadelphia and Toronto competing at a distance on Decision Day for the best regular season record.

Here’s the complete picture on the Shield race in greater detail with all the benefits that come with being No. 1 overall.

The Golden Boot pres. by Audi

With 14 goals, Diego Rossi is in pole position in the race for the league’s top goalscorer, an impressive feat considering he has missed three of LAFC’s 20 games so far. But he will only have one remaining chance against Portland to do damage, while Crew SC’s Gyasi Zardes (11 goals), Chicago’s Robert Beric (11 goals) and Seattle’s Raul Ruidiaz (11 goals) each have a shot.

Berhalter looks to USMNT’s future with Reyna, Dest, Konrad, Musah in exciting young squad

Jeff Carlisle  U.S. soccer correspondent  ESPN

There are moments when the focus of an international manager veers decidedly toward near-term concerns. Who is in form? Who is fit? Who is the next opponent? But there also are those occasions when a manager can allow himself or herself to scan the horizon and look to the future.In the case of United States men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter, this is decidedly one of those occasions. The 24-man roster he announced on Tuesday for matches against Wales on Nov. 12 and Panama four days later features 19 players who are age-eligible for the 2021 Olympics and 14 who are 20 years old or younger. This group’s youth and its corresponding potential makes this squad among the most tantalizing in recent memory.The roster has some names that, at least publicly, have only recently appeared on the national team radar. The most intriguing is that of Yunus Musah.The 17-year-old winger was born in New York, plays for Valencia, scored his first professional goal last weekend and is a product of Arsenal‘s academy. He has played for England‘s youth national teams — although not in official competition, meaning he doesn’t have to file a one-time switch to represent the U.S. — and is eligible to represent Ghana, as well. Credit, then, to U.S. Soccer Federation sporting director Earnie Stewart, U.S. men’s national team general manager Brian McBride and Berhalter for jumping on the opportunity to bring in a player that Berhalter said the USSF has been tracking for 18 months. And yes, much like the U.S. did with Sergino Dest when he was deciding his international future, this is as much a recruiting trip as anything.What we see from [Musah] is a player that’s hungry, he’s hungry to make his impact,” Berhalter said. “He has a connection with the United States. He loves the direction the team is going in. He loves the young talent that he can be alongside. And we see him as having a ton of potential. It’s not just a question of Musah choosing. Berhalter will be doing some choosing of his own.”One thing I’m always careful about is, I want to know the player’s connection to the United States in terms of: Do they feel it in their heart?” Berhalter said. “Do they feel like they want to be part of this team? Do they feel a connection to the United States? Because that’s really important. We also want to create a team that has a deep passion for representing our country.”Then there are the likes of Internacional holding midfielder Johnny CardosoWolverhampton Wanderers midfielder Owen Otasowie and Caen forward Nicholas Gioacchini.

Cardoso has been called in for a couple of U23 camps and is one of those out-of-nowhere players to whom fans latch on. He is the first player in 24 years to earn a national team call-up while playing for a club outside of CONCACAF or UEFA. Cobi Jones last did it, earning a call-up to the 1996 CONCACAF Gold Cup while playing for Vasco da Gama.To a large degree, this is all part of a roster’s natural progression. Thirteen players in this squad have represented the U.S. at a youth World Cup, including six at last year’s U20 tournament.There’s also the chance to get another dual national — or in this case, triple national — into the fold in Sebastian Soto. Names such as Dest, Chris RichardsAlex Mendez and Ulysses Llanez have been on the minds of fans for some time now. Now that the quartet is breaking into their respective first teams, the time is right to take the next steps at the international level.There’s even a man-who-came-in-from-the-cold aspect to the roster, as Lille attacker Timothy Weah makes a return after dealing with injuries for much of the past year.Granted, Berhalter isn’t looking exclusively to the future. It has been nearly a year since anything close to his first-choice group has been together, so the November get-together will be an all-too-rare opportunity to see some first-choice players up close. That’s even more so the case with the triumvirate of Christian PulisicTyler Adams and Weston McKennie, who have shared the field for just 62 minutes since the start of 2019.

Alas, that dynamic could continue, as Pulisic suffered a hamstring injury while warming up last weekend for Chelsea‘s match against Burnley. Blues boss Frank Lampard said that the injury is “very minor,” but given Pulisic’s injury history, it seems there is more than a decent chance the U.S. attacker will miss out.Pulisic’s possible absence is mitigated by the presence of 17-year-old Giovanni Reyna. In a world without COVID-19, Reyna would have long since made his debut given his performances for Borussia Dortmund. Now that wait is almost certain to give way to actual minutes on the field alongside Adams and McKennie.”I think we should be able to be very aggressive offensively, getting behind the opponent, really putting the opponent on their heels,” Berhalter said. “And those are things that we need to just work on because we haven’t been together with this group often. Tyler’s played one game for us since I’ve taken over. So it’s just about getting them on the field playing together, getting them comfortable with each other.”

With several competitions scheduled for 2021, including World Cup qualifying, the time is now to get that chemistry established.

How USMNT’s November Camp Pieces May All Fit Together

Recent injuries, a late curveball and a slew of uncapped players add a bit more intrigue to the puzzle manager Gregg Berhalter must piece together for the USA’s first matches since Feb. 1.

AVI CREDITOR23 HOURS AGO  SI 

The U.S. men’s national team as currently constructed is an exciting and promise-filled list of names. The average age for the upcoming camp and friendlies against Wales and Panama is a shade under 22, players are competing at more elite European clubs than ever before, and the potential is tantalizing. As is always the case, though, a list of names on paper and how it will all come together in practice are two entirely different things, and when 10 uncapped players are thrown into the mix—not to mention injury and pandemic curveballs to take into account—there’s a growth process that needs to take place. Expecting that to be carried out to completion in the few days between camp starting and the Nov. 12 friendly vs. Wales is asking a bit much.

For starters, there’s already been a change to the list of names available to manager Gregg Berhalter. Forward Josh Sargent won’t be taking part in camp after all due to coronavirus restrictions in Werder Bremen’s region that would have required him to quarantine for five days upon return from international travel. Werder Bremen announced Thursday that only two of its players would be released for the upcoming international window, as those two are not leaving Germany for their respective camps. U.S. Soccer confirmed that Sargent would not be joining and that LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget would take his place.That removes the top candidate to feature at center forward from the mix and opens up opportunity for the uncapped likes of Sebastian Soto and Nicholas Gioacchini to step in among a group that is flush with wide players but less so on central-based forward figures.Christian Pulisic, one of those leading wide players, may not be available. His injury before last weekend’s game vs. Burnley wound up not being serious, but he missed Chelsea’s Champions League win over Rennes on Wednesday, and his status is for this weekend’s game vs. Sheffield United is not yet known. As Berhalter said Tuesday, Pulisic’s on-field availability would depend on how his hamstring responded in the days that followed. “Christian is a 1-v-1 phenomenon, a guy that can put players on the back heels easily,” Berhalter said. Whether Wales and Panama will get to find that out remains to be seen.

Gio Reyna, who will be experiencing his first senior camp, presuming he emerges unscathed after Saturday’s Dortmund-Bayern Munich showdown, will likely feature in a wide position based on Berhalter’s comments. He’s “a different type of attacking player,” Berhalter said of Reyna, who turns 18 the day after the Wales game. He “can give a final pass, final cross.”“I don’t think we need to necessarily define where he’s going to be playing,” he added. “What we want him to do is impact the game offensively. We want him to score goals and make assists. I think that’s important. We’re going to put him on the field to do that. I don’t think it’s really important to get specific about where, I think it’s what he’s doing on the field. We want him making goals and assists.”The midfield construction is where there is plenty of intrigue. The days of “Tyler Adams, right back” are long gone, with an experiment borne out of necessity being tempered by the rise of Reggie Cannon and Sergiño Dest at the position. Berhalter described the complementary qualities that his top tier of midfielders have.”When you look at Tyler, you have a controlling midfielder with a lot of range, can easily play the No. 6 position, can give you that cover in transition, but also can give you the mobility to make good plays defensively and put pressure on the opponent,” he said.“When you look at Weston [McKennie], he’s a box-to-box midfielder who likes to arrive in the penalty box. He’s strong in tackling, but has that extra offensive edge to him.”interesting to note how little Pulisic, Adams and McKennie have actually played together with the senior national team, largely due to injuries. They’ve only started together once, and in that game, a March 2019 match vs. Ecuador, Adams was at right back, McKennie in a defensive midfield role and Pulisic as a central No. 10 figure. Beyond that, Pulisic and McKennie have started the same match 11 times. McKennie’s role in the midfield has been rather consistent, while Pulisic has shifted between starting as a forward (three times), left wing (two times), right wing (one time) and central midfield (five times). Adams and McKennie have started together without Pulisic in the lineup on five occasions, but not since a Sept. 2018 friendly vs. Mexico, which was the last of three times they’ve both featured in central midfield roles.With Adams recovering from recent back and knee injuries, though, his availability in this camp might be limited. Enter, potentially, Yunus Musah, the 17-year-old Valencia winger eligible to play for the U.S., England, Italy and Ghana. Despite playing out wide for his club, Berhalter said he viewed him more as a central figure with the U.S., though the way he describes what he sees in him overlaps more with McKennie’s attributes than those of Adams.“When you watch his games [at Valencia] he’s playing wide right in a 4-4-2, and he’s taking on the outside back, and he’s running by the outside back and he’s done a good job defensively. But we still see him as a player that can potentially be better centrally—a box-to-box midfielder a little bit in the style of Weston in terms of covering ground,” Berhalter said. “What we have to remember, and I think all of us are getting ahead of ourselves just little bit, because he’s 17 years old. We’re going to bring him into camp and we’re going to play him probably centrally and there’s going to be some growing pains with that, I can tell you right now. But he has so much talent that to me, it’s worth it. It’s worth looking at that.”In the back, the big question mark surrounds Sergiño Dest and on which side he’ll be deployed. He’s played on both for the U.S., for Ajax and now for Barcelona and seems perfectly capable of handling either challenge. The right is his stronger side, though, and with Antonee Robinson beginning to emerge as more of a fixture on the left for Fulham, the need to shift Dest over to that side isn’t as great. Between Robinson, Cannon and Dest, there are three options for two starting nods.The whole point of this camp is to start discovering the answers to some of the outstanding questions. Getting these players together—the first U.S. camp with the top-level, European-based players available in a year—is the opening Berhalter has been yearning for, but there are steps to take before any final answers emerge.”There’s a lot of question marks, but you have to start sometime,” Berhalter said. “Our first objective is to qualify for the World Cup, and then the next objective is to play well at the World Cup and then we go from there. But we realize we do have some bit of time. Qualifying doesn’t start until next September. There is a window that we have, but we have to start somewhere and we’re excited to get this group together and start working with them.”

Pulisic remains out injured for Chelsea

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•November 6, 2020

Frank Lampard has confirmed that Christian Pulisic will not play for Chelsea against Sheffield United at Stamford Bridge on Saturday (watch live, 12:30pm ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

Christian Pulisic, 22, injured his hamstring in the warm up before Chelsea’s win at Burnley last week and pulled out of the starting lineup.

Since then Lampard has said that it is only a small injury as Pulisic missed the Champions League game against Rennes on Wednesday, but had a chance of being fit to play against the Blades on Saturday.

“He is not fit to play,” Lampard said. “He is still suffering with his hamstring and he is not training. In midweek he was training at a low level but was not comfortable so we have to keep looking for the right solution.”

It seems like the last few days of training have proven to be a little too much too soon for Pulisic and anyway, why would Lampard risk rushing him back from another hamstring injury?

The main focus will now be for USMNT fans, as Pulisic has been called up to play for the Star and Stripes in their friendlies against Wales in Panama next week.

Will Pulisic be allowed to link up with the USMNT if he hasn’t been fit enough to play for Chelsea this weekend?

It’s likely he will be allowed to link up with the USMNT as this latest injury doesn’t seem serious, but it’s the latest in a long-line of setbacks over the last 18 months for the American winger.

Listing Pulisic’s injury record

Here’s a closer look at the injuries Pulisic has suffered in just the last two years, as he’s suffered six injuries which have kept him out for at least two weeks on each occasion:

  • August 2018: Muscular problem, 17 days out
  • October 2018: Torn muscle fibre, 15 days out
  • February 2019: Torn muscle fibre, 16 days out
  • March 2019: Torn muscle fibre, 20 days out
  • January 2020: Tear in adductor, 75 days out
  • August 2020: Hamstring injury, 63 days out
  • October 2020: Hamstring injury, TBD

When you see his problems written down in a list like that, you realize that they haven’t been minor issues and they are very similar problems.

Due to those issues he’s been unavailable for 22 games for Chelsea since he arrived just over 12 months ago.

USMNT put it down to growing pains

ProSoccerTalk asked USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter about Pulisic battling through very similar injuries and if he was concerned about any long-term impacts for the 22-year-old.

“I’ve been in that spot myself, where you have an injury and you’re trying to shake it and trying to come back and there is a period where you come back and you are a little bit vulnerable,” Berhalter explained. “I know Chelsea is doing every single thing they can. I know he is doing every single thing he can and he is really focused and dedicated on staying fit.

“I believe he will get to this level of resistance where he stays fit. But building that up sometimes is challenging. That could be a phase he is in right now. I know they could use him. I know he’s a fantastic player and it is great to see what he’s been doing, but he’s in good hands with the club and they are doing everything they can to get him on the field.”

Lewandowski, Haaland go head-to-head in Bayern, Dortmund showdown

AFP•November 5, 2020

The Bundesliga’s top striker Robert Lewandowski goes head-to-head with Erling Braut Haaland on Saturday when league leaders Bayern Munich travel to second-placed Borussia Dortmund.

Germany’s top clubs are both on 15 points with Bayern top due to their vastly superior goal difference.

The European champions have won all three of the club’s most recent meetings, but Dortmund have won two of their last three home games against Bayern.

“Bayern will have respect,” former Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl said in the build-up.

Lewandowski, 32, has banged in 10 goals in his five league games for Bayern, while Dortmund’s Haaland, 20, has scored five times.

Ahead of the top-of-the-table clash, Bayern and Dortmund both rested their star strikers last weekend.

The pair warmed-up by each scoring two goals for their respective clubs in midweek Champions League away wins.

Lewandowski, 32, converted a penalty and added a superb header in a 6-2 thrashing of Salzburg.

Not to be outdone, Haaland, 20, also netted twice in Dortmund’s 3-0 win at Brugge to become the first player to score 14 goals in his first 11 Champions League games. 

– Alaba distraction –

Bayern have had to deal with off-field distractions, however, caused by David Alaba’s contract wrangles.

The defender is “hurt and disappointed” after Bayern withdrew the offer of a contract extension, which reportedly would have earned Alaba up to 20 million euros ($23.6 million) per season.

His contract expires next June and head coach Hansi Flick has said he just wants “calm in the team before the game against Dortmund”.

The big question is whether Dortmund can contain a Bayern side which has scored 44 goals in just 12 games this season. 

Having reverted to a back four after abandoning a three-man defence, Dortmund have not conceded a goal in their last four games.

However, Bayern will be a far bigger test of Dortmund’s defensive prowess than Schalke, Zenit St Petersburg, Bielefeld or Brugge.

“We feel very comfortable in the new system,” said Dortmund centre-back Manuel Akanji.

“We know that we can win against Bayern at home. We have proven that several times.”

Midfielder Axel Witsel impressed as a defender alongside Akanji in the win at Brugge.

Witsel could start against Bayern at centre-back if Mats Hummels fails to recover from a thigh strain.

Before the Bundesliga’s heavyweights slug it out in Dortmund, third-place RB Leipzig host Freiburg, who are winless in their last five games.

Leipzig want to build on their midweek Champions League win over Paris Saint Germain when the German club’s French winger Christopher Nkunku scored against his former club PSG in a 2-1 victory.

One to watch: Alassane Plea

Plea netted a hat-trick in mid-week as Borussia Moenchengladbach returned to their European glory days of the 70s with a 6-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

The 27-year-old has also been creative in Europe with four assists – setting up both goals for Marcus Thuram, who just received his first France call-up, in Gladbach’s 2-2 home draw against Real Madrid.

Expect Plea and Thuram to spearhead the visitors’ attack at Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday with just a point separating the clubs.

Key stats

37 – average minutes Lewandowski needs to score a Bundesliga goal this season, while Haaland nets in the league every 77 minutes.

5 – goals Haaland has scored in as many Bundesliga matches in 2020/21. Lewandowski has netted a record ten in his first five games.

18 – goals Haaland has scored in his first 20 Bundesliga games. Lewandowski scored five times in his first 20 league games in 2010/11.

Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)

Friday

Werder Bremen v Cologne (1930)  

Saturday

RB Leipzig v Freiburg, Union Berlin v Arminia Bielefeld, Mainz 05 v Schalke 04, Augsburg v Hertha Berlin, VfB Stuttgart v Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich (1730) 

Sunday

VfL Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim, Bayer Leverkusen v Borussia Moenchengladbach (1700)

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