5/20/22  Carmel FC Teams Advance to Finals, State/Prez Cup this weekend, US Equal Pay for Men & Women’s Teams, EPL Ends Sun 11 am, France ends Sat, Italy/Spain end Sun

Huge Congrats to the U19 2003 Carmel FC Boys Gold team as they won their Final Tournament – The Crown Challenge in Cincinnati last weekend with a wonderful way to end their Carmel FC Journey.  Coach Mike Cronin (right) and Matt Madden (left) have been with this team since their beginning with many of these players playing since U11 with Carmel FC.  I have coached with these guys and they are the best in the business – thanks for all your years of coaching guys and best of luck after graduation boys !! 

Also huge congrats to the 2011 U11 Girls Gold team, U17 2005 Girls Gold team, U15 2007 Boys Gold Team U13 2009 Boys Blue Team.  Good luck to all of our teams playing in State and President’s Cup games at Grand Park this weekend – I will be refing all weekend long!

Champions League Specials on CBS Sports Network All Week

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

  • 2013, 2003 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30 a.m.
  • 1999, 2005 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 2 a.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Quarterfinals, 1st Leg:  Benfica vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 2008, 2014 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 6:30 p.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 1st Leg: Manchester City vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.
  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 2nd Leg: Real Madrid vs. Manchester City – 11 p.m.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

  • 2021-22 UCL, Semifinals, 2nd Leg: Villareal vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 2018, 1994 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 6:30 p.m.

Friday, May 27, 2022

  • 2020-21 UCL, Quarterfinals, 1st Leg: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 10 a.m.
  • 1981 European Cup Final: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid – 9 p.m.
  • 2018 UCL Final: Real Madrid vs. Liverpool – 11 p.m.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

  • 2019 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1 a.m.
  • 2007 & 2012 UCL Finals: Finals Archive – 1:30am ET

EPL Ends with Title, Top 4, Top 6, Top 7 still undecided & Leeds American Coach trying to avoid Relegation Sun at 11 am on NBC all Channels

So this is why the EPL is the most popular league in Europe and the World as who will win the EPL Title (Man City 89 pts or Liverpool 88 pts), who will finish 4th and qualify for Champions League play next season (Spurs 68 pts or Arsenal 66 pts), who will finish 6th and automatically qualify for Europa League (Man United 58 or West Ham 56) and finally who will be relegated or sent down to the lower league Leeds United 35 pts or Burnley 35 pts.  Of course Leeds United has newly appointed American Coach Jesse Marsh trying to keep his team in the EPL – the difference in money over 100 million dollars – what’s It mean to the club? Well in addition to many of the players being released, perhaps the coaches, it’s the cooks, the kit men, the ticket takers, the chefs and cooks, the parking lot attendants – its something we in the US know nothing about.  In the US American teams want to lose to get the better draft pick next year – in the rest of the world Relegation and Promotion means the worst 2 or 3 teams move down to the lower league (Jacksonville Jags you are USFL now) and the best 2 or 3 teams from the lower leagues move up (Indy 11 you are now in the MLS and get $100 million more dollars to work with to make your team better – be it by new players or better chefs, etc).  That makes this weekend’s Leeds United @ Brentford (Peacock 11 am) and Burnley vs New Castle United (Golf Channel) perhaps the biggest games on this monumental final day of play Sunday at 11 am in the English Premier League. Of course Arsenal must win at Everton (who just barely staved off relegation with their last second win midweek) and Norwich City vs Tottenham on Syfy will decide that 4th and final Champions League spot.  While the title will come down to weather Man City can beat Aston Villa at home on NBC or do they lose and Liverpool hosting Wolverhampton on USA Network allows the unthinkable just 2 month ago and they take the Quadruple (Liverpool has won both league Cups and still has Champions League to play for vs Real Madrid next Sat on CBS 3 pm – all they need is the League Title to become the first ever EPL team to pull the quad) VERY Doubtful it happens on this final day of play however.  Also up for grabs the Goal Scoring leader, Goals + Assists and the Top Goalkeeper – click here to read more).   

Indy 11 return home Sat 7 pm to host the NY Red Bulls at the Mike

Its going to the Dogs night for the Indy 11 Saturday at 7 pm.  Indy Eleven will look to start a new win streak when it returns to Carroll Stadium Saturday evening to host New York Red Bulls II. Despite a loss last week at Memphis that snapped a four-game winning run and six-match undefeated streak, the Boys in Blue still sit just on the right side of the Eastern Conference playoff line with some room to improve that positioning thanks to two games in hand on each of the 4 teams within 2 points both above (Tampa Bay & Miami) and below (Birmingham & Tulsa) them. The presence of 2019 and 2020 USL Championship Most Valuable Player Solomon Asante should only bolster Indy Eleven’s hopes of a successful homecoming. After signing with the Boys in Blue on April 11, some massive lifting behind the scenes allowed Asante to arrive from his native Ghana last weekend. The ex-Phoenix Rising FC standout trained throughout the week for the Boys in Blue, but how much Head Coach Mark Lowry will utilize the influential attacking presence remains to be seen. 

US Men & Women Agree to EQUAL PAY CONTRACTS

Huge news this week that the US Men and Women become the first Country in the World to agree to Equal pay across the board for the Men’s and Women’s teams. The teams agreed to share in total prize money gained from both World Cups and split it equally amongst the teams to make it happen.  The Men had to give up higher overall payouts made to the men by FIFA while the women had to give up guaranteed contracts and some other things- but in the end everything will be equal.  That means accommodations, travel, per diem, payment for making rosters, payments for wins, etc – is all going to be equal.  Lots to read below in the ole Ballcoach about what this all means – but huge !!  And Well done US Soccer – finally !!

USMNT Names Roster for June Games

The 26-man roster for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this

BIG GAMES ON TV

(American’s in parenthesis)

Sat,  May 21

1 pm Youtube DAZN           Barcelona vs Olympic Lyonnais ( Women’s Champs League)

2 pm ESPN+, Desp               Freiburg vs RB Leipzig (German Cup Final)

2:45 pm Para+                      Fiorentina vs Juventus

3:30 pm Unimas                   Columbus crew vs LAFC

6 pm ESPN+                           Cincy vs New England

6 pm para +                           Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash NWSL

7 pm TV 8                   Indy 11 vs NY RB 2 @ the Mike

7:30 pm FOX                        Nashville SC vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm Para+                 Angel City vs KC NWSL

Sun,  May 20  Final day EP/Italt/Spain

11 am USA                             Arenal vs Everton

11 am USA                             Brentford vs Leeds United 

11 am Peacock                     Burnely vs New Castle

11 am Peacock                     Liverpool vs Wolverhampton 

9 am Peacock                        Brentford vs Leeds United (Jesse Marsch)

11 am Peacock                     Norwich City (Stewart) vs Tottenham

11 am Peacock                     Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Watford

12:30 pm ESPN+               Barcelona vs Villareal

5 pm Para+                         NY/NJ Gotham vs Racing Louisville NWSL

6 pm Para+                         Portlant Reign vs Washington Spirit NWSL

10 pm FS1                            Portand Timbers vs Philly

Weds,  May 25

3 pm CBS SN                         Europa Conf finals-Roma vs Feynoord 

10 pm Para+                       Portland Reign vs KC  NWSL

Sat,  May 28                          Champions League Final

3 pm CBS, TUDN        Liverpool vs Real Madrid  Final

Wed, June 1

2:45 pm ESPN2           Scotland vs Ukraine

7:30 pm ESPN2           USA vs Morocco in Cincy

Indy 11 Schedule

Indy 11 Women’s Schedule

NWSL Women’s Schedule

MLS National TV Schedule

Soccer Saturday’s are every Sat 9-10 am on 93.5 and 107.5 FM with Greg Rakestraw

CARMEL FC 2022 Tryouts and Evaluation Information

All evaluations and tryouts will be held at Shelborne Fields. 3451 W 126th St, Carmel, IN 46032.

June 7, 2022 – Players 10u, 9u and 8u (Birth Years 2013 to 2016)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before evaluations begin.

Evaluations for all age groups: 6pm to 7:30pm

——————————————————————————————————————–

June 13, 2022- Players 11u and older (Birth Years 2004 to 2012)

Check-in starts 1/2 hour before tryouts.

Tryouts for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012: 5:45pm to 7:15pm

Tryouts for 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008: 7:30pm to 9pm.
——————————————————————————————————————–
Use this link to register for tryouts. Please email  info@cdccarmelfc.com. with any questions.

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumni Soccer  

Mid June – early August –  Games Wed/Sun  Age 18-30  Registration open thru June 16th. Call 317-846-1633 or Click Here Make your own teams or we can add you to a team.  Cost is just $105 includes Jersey. 

 Carmel Dads’ Club Soccer Camp Powered by Indy Eleven – June 13-16 9am-12pm (Rain day reschedule June 17)  Ages 6-13   Shelborne Soccer Fields – 3451 W. 126th St. Carmel, IN 46033 –  REGISTRATION IS LIVE!

======================RackZ BAR BQ ====Save 20% ====================== 

Heading over to Badger Field for Training?  Try out the Best BarBQ in Town right across the street (131st) from Northview Church on the corner of Hazelldell & 131st. RackZ BBQ

Save 20% on your order 

(mention the ole ballcoach) 

Check out the BarBQ Ribs, pulled Pork and Chicken, Brisket and more.  Sweet, Tangy or Spicy sauce. Mention you heard about it from the Ole Ballcoach — and Ryan will give you 20% off your next mealhttps://www.rackzbbqindy.com/ Call ahead at 317-688-7290  M-Th 11-8 pm, 11-9 Fri/Sat, 12-8 pm on Sunday.  Pick some up after practice – Its good eatin! You won’t be disappointed and tell ’em the Ole Ballcoach Sent You!  

USA  

USMNT deliver assist in victory for equal pay

Historic equal pay deal for U.S. Soccer teams
EXPLAINER: US Soccer’s equal pay play and what it means
US women’s soccer players lift up all women with victory in equal pay battle | Opinion  USA Today

USWNT show that everyone wins when women win – Shalise Manza Young »

US MEN

The 26-man roster:for June Games

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Nottingham Forest), Zack Steffen (Manchester City), Matt Turner (New England Revolution)

DEFENDERS (9): George Bello (Arminia Bielefeld), Reggie Cannon (Boavista), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Celtic FC), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Erik Palmer-Brown (Troyes), Antonee Robinson (Fulham FC), Joe Scally (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Inter Miami), Walker Zimmerman (Nashville SC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (LAFC), Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Luca de la Torre (Heracles), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Djordje Mihailovic (CF Montreal), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Malik Tillman (Bayern Munich)

FORWARDS (7): Brenden Aaronson (Red Bull Salzburg), Paul Arriola (FC Dallas), Jesús Ferreira (FC Dallas), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Tim Weah (Lille), Haji Wright (Antalyaspor)

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this

Brooks has more to give USMNT despite Wolfsburg struggles  ESPN Derek Rae

Don’t worry about Pepi: Assessing USMNT striker’s rough start at Augsburg ESPNFC ustin Lindberg

Liiga Mx has the playoff Structure right

The amazing Aaronsons: Brenden, Paxten and their parents on being U.S. soccer’s next big hopes  ESPNFC Tom Hamilton

EPL


Premier League final day: what is at stake and how could it all play out?
ESPNFC
Mark Ogden
Race for the prize! What history tells us about Premier League final-day title deciders
  ESPNFC 
Chris Wright
Which Premier League clubs will qualify for Europe?
  ESPNFC Dale Honson
ale Johnson

Arsenal lack leadership and desire, and they could miss the Champions League because of it  Mark Ogden
Where would Man United be without Ronaldo? How he saved a grim season from total meltdown
 
Mark Ogden
Man City keep title fate in their hands despite Mahrez penalty miss

Newcastle vs Arsenal: Gunners beaten again in top-four collapse

17-year-old Blackpool forward Jake Daniels says he is gay

Blackpool’s Daniels ends 32-year wait for gay UK male footballer to come out

Liverpool’s FA Cup win completes the double, but can they shake off fatigue to win two more this season?
ESPNFC
Mark Ogden

Chelsea’s striker issues doomed them to another FA Cup loss. Should they now keep or move on from Lukaku? James Olley
Marsch: Leeds ‘unlucky not to come away with more’

Nottingham Forest need penalties to reach playoff final

WORLD

RB Leipzig must win DFB-Pokal after strong Bundesliga finish to a tough season Derek Rae

Bundesliga 2021-22 review: Bayern’s early peak, USMNT stars, Erling Haaland era ends  Bill Connelly
Lionel Messi’s agent shuts down Inter Miami, MLS rumors: He ‘has not yet decided’

Lionel Messi to join MLS in 2023, buy 35% of David Beckham’s Inter Miami (report)

Sources: PSG admit defeat in keeping Mbappe
  ESPNFC ulien Laurens

Emotional Sendoff for Juve’s Giorgio Chiellini and Dybala in Turin for their last home game

Firing the coach worked for Barcelona, but not every LaLiga club got it right this season Graham Hunter


Bayern Munich stars dominate our 2021-22 Bundesliga best XI
  ESPNFC Derek Rae
Suarez bids Atletico farewell as Sevilla qualify for Champions League

Champions League revamp: How the competition will work from 2024-25

 INDY 11 & MLS  

Preview Indy 11 vs NY RB2

Asante is Finally Here Ready

MLS Power Rankings: Dallas looks like a challenger to LA’s duopoly ESPNFC Kyle Bonagura and Caitlin Murray

NWSL

 NC Courage’s Challenge Cup win shows best and worst NWSL has to offer  ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle
Jill Ellis led the USWNT to World Cup titles, but she feels more pressure with NWSL’s San Diego Wave
  ESPNFC Cesar Hernandez

Premier League final day: what is at stake and how could it all play out?

6:01 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Down at the bottom of the table, Leeds United and Burnley are battling to avoid the relegation trapdoor and one of them will be joining Norwich and Watford in the EFL Championship next season.

And there is also the race to claim the individual awards with it still too close to call for the Golden Boot, Golden Glove and Playmaker of the Season prize.

So with one round of games to go, what needs to happen on the final day of the season?

Title race

Manchester City opened a 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League in February, albeit having played two more games than Liverpool. But despite their significant advantage, Pep Guardiola and his team have stumbled in the run-in and allowed Jurgen Klopp’s side to go into the final day with hopes still alive of a second title in three years and the third leg of a quadruple.But while Liverpool’s 2-1 midweek win at Southampton moved them to within one point of City, the odds strongly favour the reigning champions this weekend.City are at home to Aston Villa, managed by former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, and a win will guarantee a fourth title in five seasons for Guardiola’s side.Villa have lost their last eight games against City in all competitions and haven’t won a league game at the Etihad since 2007, so their form against City is poor. But if they can sneak a draw, Liverpool can then win the title with a victory against Wolves at Anfield.If City lose and Liverpool draw, it then goes down to goal difference but it would require City to lose by seven goals for Liverpool to finish top.There is, remarkably, the prospect of a title playoff if both City and Liverpool end the season level on points. If City lose 6-0 and Liverpool play out a 5-5 draw, then the two teams will be level on goals scored, goals conceded, goal difference and head to head. Such an outcome would require a playoff at a neutral venue, but if that happens, it really will have been an unforgettable final day.

Champions League qualification

Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal are separated by just four miles in North London, so their rivalry was already intense enough before the two clubs became locked in a battle for the final Champions League qualification spot this season.Arsenal could have secured a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League for the first time since 2017 by beating Spurs at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on May 12, but Mikel Arteta’s team suffered a 3-0 defeat and handed their bitter rivals a lifeline.Tottenham’s subsequent home win against Burnley three days later meant Arsenal had to win at Newcastle on May 16 to climb back into the top four, but a 2-0 defeat saw them blow their chance to go into the final day with a one-point advantage.So Spurs will start the day with a two-point lead over the Gunners and a goal difference of +24 — 15 better than Arsenal’s.It means that if Spurs avoid defeat at relegated Norwich, they are effectively guaranteed fourth place and a Champions League spot. For Arsenal, they simply have to beat Everton at the Emirates and hope that Norwich can produce one of the shocks of the season by beating Antonio Conte’s team at Carrow Road.

Europa League positions and Europa Conference League spot

Arsenal or Spurs will take the first Europa League spot by finishing fifth, although it will be no more than a consolation prize with both clubs still chasing a Champions League berth on the final day.The second spot is a two-way scrap between Manchester United and West Ham. Both teams are guaranteed European qualification, but results on Sunday will determine which plays in the Europa League next season and which ends up in the Europa Conference League.

– How European qualification in the Premier League works

United need a win at Crystal Palace to be certain of a sixth-place finish and the Europa League pass that comes with it. A draw or even defeat could still see Ralf Rangnick end his spell as interim manager with Europa League qualification, as long as West Ham do not win.

Due to their superior goal difference — West Ham are at +11 compared to United’s +1 — a win at Brighton will take the Hammers above United if Rangnick’s side fail to win at Selhurst Park. West Ham simply have to win and hope United drop points. A draw will not be enough for this season’s Europa League semifinalists.

Relegation

Everton’s remarkable 3-2 win against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday, when Frank Lampard’s team trailed 2-0 at half-time, was enough to banish the club’s relegation fears and ensure a stress-free final game of the season at Arsenal on Sunday.

So the battle to avoid the third relegation spot, and join Norwich and Watford in the Championship next season, is now down to just two teams — Burnley and Leeds.  Burnley’s 1-1 draw at Aston Villa on Thursday moved them out of the bottom three and gave them a crucial edge over Leeds going into the final day. Although the two clubs are level on 35 points, Burnley’s vastly superior goal difference — Burnley are on -18, Leeds on -38 — means that they will stay up if they at least match Leeds’ result at Brentford.  It’s a simple scenario for Burnley. If they beat Newcastle at Turf Moor they stay up and a draw or even defeat could be enough if Leeds get the same result. Jesse Marsch’s Leeds simply need to better Burnley’s result. If Burnley draw, Leeds need to win, but if Burnley are beaten, a draw will be enough for Leeds.  If both Burnley and Leeds win on the final day, Leeds will be relegated just two seasons after being promoted back to the Premier League after a 16-year absence.

Golden Boot

Mohamed Salah leads the scoring charts with 22 goals going into the final day, but the Liverpool forward could be overtaken by Tottenham’s Son Heung-Min who has 21 goals to date. With Spurs playing relegated Norwich at Carrow Road, Son will be facing the team with the worst defensive record in the Premier League this season, with 79 goals conceded in 37 games, so the South Korea forward will be confident of getting on the scoresheet.But with Liverpool needing a win to keep alive their title hopes, Jurgen Klopp’s team will almost certainly play all-out attack, so Salah — who is expected to have recovered from an injury suffered in the FA Cup final and missed Tuesday’s win at Southampton — will also have his chances.Cristiano Ronaldo, with 18 goals for Manchester United this season, is third in the goal charts, but although the 37-year-old has proved time and again that he is capable of the improbable, a four-goal display against Crystal Palace may be pushing even Ronaldo’s capabilities.

Golden Glove

Manchester City’s Ederson and Liverpool’s Alisson go into the final game having both kept 20 clean sheets in the Premier League this season. Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris is next on the list with 15 shutouts, so it will be Brazil‘s leading keepers who battle it out to win the Golden Glove this weekend.

Alisson has 20 from 35 games, while Ederson has managed 20 from 36, so the Liverpool No. 1 has a slight edge in terms of numbers, but if the two keepers end the season with the same number of clean sheets, the award is shared.

Playmaker of the Season

The Playmaker of the Season award was introduced in 2017-18 for the player with most assists. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne has won it twice (in 2017-18 and 2019-20) with Chelsea‘s Eden Hazard (2018-19) and Tottenham’s Harry Kane (2020-21) the other winners so far.

Barring a stunning individual performance by West Ham’s Jarrod Bowen or Chelsea’s Mason Mount on Sunday — both players have 10 assists this season — the Playmaker award will go to a Liverpool player.

Salah leads the way with 13 assists, while Trent Alexander-Arnold is one behind on 12. Andy Robertson is also in contention, but like Bowen and Mount, the Scotland defender is on 10 assists so he would need to create a hat trick of assists to tie with Salah.

Paul Pogba, whose six-year spell at Manchester United will end when he becomes a free agent this summer, is next on the line with nine this season.

Which Premier League clubs will qualify for the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League?

May 16, 2022  Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The Premier League season is almost over and the race for a place in Europe is reaching its climax.

We take a look at who is in contention to qualify for the Champions LeagueEuropa League and Europa Conference League, and what impact an English team winning a European trophy could have.

– How VAR has affected every Premier League club

How many teams qualify for Europe?

The maximum that can qualify from domestic performance in the Premier League — so either league position or by winning one of the two cup competitions — is seven.However, the places reserved for European titleholders are separate if a team does not qualify domestically. Therefore, it is technically possible, though unlikely, for the Premier League to have 10 teams in Europe — the seven domestic qualifiers plus the winners of the Champions League, Europa League and Europa Conference League if they are outside the European places.

With West Ham and Leicester losing in the semifinals if the Europa League and Europa Conference League respectively, there will be the usual seven Premier League teams in Europe next season.

Which Premier League places will qualify this season?

At the start of the season, the top four in the Premier League qualify for the Champions League, while fifth place and the FA Cup winners enter the Europa League. The winners of the Carabao Cup qualify for the Europa Conference League.However, Liverpool won the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup and can finish no lower than second in the league, so the Europa League and Europa Conference League places transfer to the Premier League.So, on domestic performance we know the following:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

All teams go direct to the group stage, apart from the Europa Conference League, where the seventh-placed club will enter in the final qualifying round.

Who is in contention for Europe?

Premier League Table

GPGDPTS
1 – Man City37+7290
2 – Liverpool36+6586
3 – Chelsea36+4270
4 – Tottenham37+2468
5 – Arsenal37+966
6 – Man United37+158
7 – West Ham37+1156
8 – Wolves37-351

Manchester City (90), Liverpool (86 points) and Chelsea (70) are confirmed in the Champions League.

That leaves two teams in contention for the final UCL place. Tottenham Hotspur (68) have a vastly superior goal difference to Arsenal (66), which means Spurs will qualify for the Champions League if they get at least a draw at bottom-of-the-table Norwich City on Sunday. Arsenal must win at home to Everton and hope Spurs lose at Norwich. Whoever missed out will play in the Europa League.The second Europa League place is close. Manchester United (58) hold it right now, but West Ham United (56) are two points behind with a far superior goal difference. The Hammers must win at Brighton on the final day and hope Man United draw or lose at Crystal Palace. Both are assured of at least a place in the UEFA Europa Conference League as no other team remains in contention for a place in Europe.

What if Liverpool win the Champions League?

This will have no effect on the Premier League as Liverpool are guaranteed to finish in the top four this season. There is no “drop down” of places to give fifth a Champions League spot.If the Champions League winners also qualify domestically, the position in the group stage for the titleholders is vacant. This isn’t filled by giving another team a place, the qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.Ordinarily, this would mean the champions of the country ranked 11th in the UEFA coefficient table at the end of the 2020-21 season — which is Scotland — would go direct to the Champions League group stage, rather than having to qualify. However, Russia is ranked eighth, and UEFA has announced its clubs will continue to be excluded from European competition. That means the Scottish champions, likely Celtic, are guaranteed to go direct to the group stage.So, if Liverpool win the Champions League it will be the champions of the 12th-ranked country who are given a place in the group stage. This just so happens to be Ukraine (Shakhtar Donetsk), though there are obvious doubts about its clubs participating next season. If Ukrainian clubs are not able to compete, it would be the champions of Turkey (Trabzonspor) promoted to the group stage.

How does qualification work for other European titleholders?

This can no longer apply this season, but it’s worth explaining.  By winning the Europa League, a club earns a place in the Champions League group stage. How that affects European places in the Premier League depends purely on where they finish.

There are three overriding principles:
– The winners of a European competition have the automatic right to European football the following season.
– A team has the right to play in the highest-ranked competition they qualify for.
– Another Premier League team cannot be affected by another’s success in Europe.

There are a few caveats, but it’s best to keep things simple for the purposes of this article.

So if a team wins the Europa League:
– They are guaranteed to play in the Champions League wherever they finish in the Premier League
– Eighth in the Premier League cannot qualify for Europe as a result of this

If the Europa League winners finish in the top four, nothing changes for the Premier League. The UCL qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

If the Europa League winners finish fifth or sixth, there would be only one Premier League team in the Europa League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5 or 6 only
Europa Conference League: 7

If the Europa League winners finish seventh, there would be no English team in the Europa Conference League:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: –

This happened in Spain last season, when Villarreal won the Europa League and finished seventh, meaning LaLiga had no representative in the inaugural season of the Europa Conference League.

If the Europa League winners finish lower than seventh, they would their place in Europe as titleholders but the top seven would be unaffected — there would be eight Premier League teams in Europe:
Champions League: 1, 2, 3, 4, UEL winners
Europa League: 5, 6
Europa Conference League: 7

The same outline principles apply to any team that wins the Europa Conference League.

If the Europa Conference League winners finish in the top six, nothing changes for the Premier League. The qualifying rounds are rebalanced with clubs effectively receiving byes.

If the UECL winners finish seventh, they play in the Europa League and there is no Premier League team in the UECL. If the UECL winners finish lower than seventh, it would create an additional team in Europe as titleholders.

Can eighth in the Premier League qualify for Europe?

It is impossible for eighth to qualify by league position. This team must win a domestic cup competition or a European title to play in Europe the following season.

USWNT, USMNT achieve equal pay: How they reached a historic benchmark

By Meg Linehan and Sam Stejskal  May 18, 2022  The Athletic

For years, the slogan has been ubiquitous: “One Nation. One Team.” Whether you’re watching a U.S. national team match, on one of their official social media pages or shopping in the federation’s web store, you’re almost guaranteed to see it plastered all over the place. But that marketing campaign has never felt more fitting than right now. On Wednesday, following a bitter lawsuit and lengthy, occasionally contentious negotiating process, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the players’ unions for the U.S. women’s and men’s national teams announced that they have agreed to separate collective bargaining agreements that achieve equal pay through identical economic terms for both teams. “One-hundred percent, it embodies One Nation, One Team,” USWNT forward Midge Purce told The Athletic during a Zoom call with USMNT center back Walker Zimmerman and U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone. “We’re intrinsically tied now (with the men’s national team). When they score, we’ll cheer just a little bit harder. We did before, but we’re excited about it — we want a doubleheader. We’re opening doors for a new look of what football is in America.”Equal pay is, of course, the major and deserved headline with Wednesday’s news. The three sides have agreed that the compensation negotiated with the two new CBAs is not just equal pay, but equal pay with equal rates of pay (rather than comparing total compensation, regardless of imbalances of matches played). 

The two teams will now be on level terms for:

  • Equal pay for every game played, from friendlies to World Cups and other competitions
  • Equal bonuses for game outcome and World Cup participation
  • Equal pay for every day in camp
  • Equal split of World Cup prize money, with the two teams pooling and then dividing their prize totals from the 2022 and 2023 tournaments, and 2026 and 2027 competitions
  • Equal split of a new commercial revenue share program with U.S. Soccer
  • Equal rate for tickets sold for games controlled by U.S. Soccer

Equalizing World Cup prize money was the major hurdle that needed to be cleared to get these deals done. In practice, it’ll work like this: Say the U.S. men reach the round of 16 in Qatar to win a $13 million prize from FIFA and the U.S. women win the tournament in 2023 to earn a potential $7 million prize from FIFA. The two teams would then evenly split 90 percent of that combined total of $20 million, with the remaining 10 percent of their respective prize monies going to the federation. That nets out to $9 million for each team to be split between their respective players. That number does not include the World Cup roster appearance fee paid by USSF to each player on the respective squads.For the 2026 men’s World Cup and 2027 Women’s World Cup, the two teams will split 80 percent of the combined prize money paid by FIFA. U.S. Soccer’s cut of the overall winnings will increase to 20 percent for those two tournaments. For other competitions, prize money will be distributed depending on if the same tournament exists for both the MNT and the WNT. In the case of the Gold Cup and W Gold Cup, for instance, the prize money will be pooled and shared equally between the teams, with U.S. Soccer keeping 30 percent of the total and each team receiving 35 percent of the entire pool. For any other competitions that don’t have an equivalent (such as Copa America), U.S. Soccer will give 70 percent to the participating team.Both the WNT and MNT collective bargaining agreements will run for the same term, retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year, through Dec. 31, 2028. “This is the first time that we have sat down together, and we accomplished something historic,” said Zimmerman, a member of the leadership group for the men’s union, the U.S. National Soccer Team Players Association (USNSTPA). “We’re really excited to continue that timeline and to work together. It makes a lot more sense when you’re united, and you want to have — and you do have — equal terms, it just makes sense to move forward on that (shared) timeline.”The larger structural changes are on the women’s side. Guaranteed contracts are now gone, though even without the new CBA, the number of guaranteed contracts had already fallen to only 16. Some players will still be able to receive benefits, which include insurance, parental leave and short-term disability, through the federation, in recognition of what the federation deems “additional work.” 

In February, U.S. Women’s National Team Players Association (USWNTPA) president Becky Sauerbrunn said that the team has approached past CBA negotiations differently. ​​“We’ve asked for different structures (than the men), but that’s always because we never got an identical compensation proposal, and so we had to fight for the best deal that we could at the time. Fortunately, because of the equal pay commitment in the settlement, and between the federation and our players’ association and men’s association — there will be things that we are fighting for separately — but when it comes down to pay, when it comes down to working conditions, those things will be the same.”With compensation equalized, the WNT players were willing to shift to the pay-for-play structure of the men, with their money now coming on a per-game basis. “The way that this new CBA is structured, we’ve increased the amount of risk with your paycheck,” Purce, a member of the USWNTPA CBA committee, said. Rising NWSL salaries (and the new NWSL CBA, signed on Apr. 29, which introduces free agency by 2023) will play a role in minimizing some of that risk for players moving forward — though it’s nowhere near as financially robust as the club contracts signed by men’s players.“I’m really happy that people aren’t signing for $16,000 like I did when I was still in college, and that people can support themselves more comfortably with NWSL salaries,” she said. “It’s a credit to the NWSL, and I hope it just keeps growing with this.”There are also smaller wins for the WNT which will have a direct financial benefit. The federation has equalized how opponents’ FIFA rankings impact game bonuses, with the same tier system now in place for both senior national teams. An equal number of players will now be named to game-day rosters (unless otherwise restricted by the competition) for the MNT and WNT, which will increase most WNT rosters from 18 players to 23. Combined, that means that the WNT isn’t just getting better bonuses, but that more players will be earning them.

Here’s how these numbers will play out for both the WNT and MNT for friendlies, with the new equal tier system in place:

Friendlies vs. FIFA rank 1-25*

RESULTAPPEARANCE FEEGAME BONUSTOTAL
Win$8,000$10,000$18,000
Draw$8,000$3,000$11,000
Loss$8,000$0$8,000

*Tier includes all men’s friendlies vs. Mexico and all women’s friendlies vs. Canada, regardless of their respective FIFA ranks

Friendlies vs. FIFA rank 26+

RESULTAPPEARANCE FEEGAME BONUSTOTAL
Win$8,000$5,000$15,000
Draw$8,000$2,000$10,000
Loss$8,000$0$8,000

Game bonuses will be higher for World Cup qualifying matches compared to other official competitions. Here are the breakdowns for appearance fees and bonuses for these two other types of matches:

FIFA World Cup Qualifying

CATEGORYAPPEARANCE FEESGAME BONUSTOTAL
Win$10,000$14,000$24,000
Draw$10,000$4,000$14,000
Loss$10,000$0$10,000

Non-FIFA World Cup Official Competitions

CATEGORYAPPEARANCE FEESGAME BONUSTOTAL
Win$10,000$12,000$22,000
Draw$10,000$4,000$14,000
Loss$10,000$0$10,000

There will be no performance bonuses for World Cup matches for the WNT or MNT, though players will receive the $10,000 appearance fee for those matches.The settlement on working conditions as part of the equal pay lawsuit between the WNT players and the federation, approved in April 2021, has also been carried forward into the collective bargaining agreement, with equal resources provided for venues and field services, hotel accommodations, team staffing and travel.Additionally, for the first time, U.S. Soccer will share a portion of its broadcast and sponsorship revenue with the senior national team players. The share given to the men’s and women’s teams will be equal. The revenue share program will kick in once USSF crosses the $55 million income threshold. If the federation pulls in between $55-$75 million in an individual year, each team will receive 10 percent of the total. If U.S. Soccer earns more than $75 million, the two teams will each get 15 percent of the total. A source indicated that the federation is positioned well to hit that threshold after the agreement it signed with Nike last November, and the media rights deal it reached with Turner Sports in March

The sides also agreed to share ticket revenue from home games controlled by U.S. Soccer. Players will receive a small cut of revenue from each ticket sold for those matches, which include home friendlies, World Cup qualifiers and Nations League contests. From 2023 to 2026, U.S. Soccer will set aside $5.06 from every ticket sold; for the last two years of the CBA terms, that will rise to $5.75. Players will also receive a bonus if games are sold out — the federation will pay the players 10% of the average ticket cost for sell outs on matches they control. As part of the new CBA, the federation will also now provide childcare to USMNT players during all training camps and match windows. The USSF has provided that benefit to the USWNT for more than 25 years. The federation is also setting up a 401(k) plan for all players from both teams. For the men, the agreement brings an end to a nearly three-and-a-half-year period in which they were working without a CBA. That process has been fraught at times, with the players reportedly threatening to strike ahead of their friendly against Costa Rica last June. That move prompted a round of negotiations that ended with the players reportedly reaching an agreement with USSF CEO Will Wilson, only for that deal to later be rejected by the U.S. Soccer board.The men pulled back from negotiations after the proposed deal fell apart last June, but they returned to the table last fall to sit in on the women’s negotiations as observers. Eventually, they became active participants. All the while, as they were working their way through qualification for the 2022 World Cup, the men were debating whether or not to pool their prize money with the women so that it would be equalized across both teams. “I’m gonna be honest, it wasn’t always easy,” said Zimmerman. “It was definitely not a quick conversation like, ‘Hey, everyone, if you vote yes, raise your hand. Yep, we’re good.’ It was a lot of conversations where we had to listen, hear everyone out, hear exactly what they thought.” Ultimately, Zimmerman said, actually sitting down at the bargaining table with the women’s players pushed the men over the line. They knew what they felt was right — they just had to act.

“I would say that’s when the reality hit,” he said. “Like, ‘Yeah, this is what we need to do, this is what has to happen to grow the game beyond just the men’s team and the women’s team, but to grow it at the grassroots level.’ … We came together and said this is what is right, this can be historic, this could change the landscape of international football and what it looks like with federations having equal pay for the men’s and women’s sides. I think that’s kind of what sold it at the end of the day, is that this is what’s right and that this is an opportunity to do what no other national team has done.” Cone, who echoed Zimmerman’s comments about the importance of the deal, not just for equal pay, but for “the overall growth of the game,” praised the men for their decision to pool World Cup prize money. I’m just so proud, especially of the men and the men’s PA, for coming together,” she said. “Because no matter how you look at it, it was contingent on them being willing to come together and negotiate with the women and give up some of the money that had previously gone to the men to help us equalize World Cup prize money. So we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for everyone joining together and collaborating.”Of course, the U.S. men can afford to give up a portion of their prize money. Unlike the women, almost all of the regular men’s players make hefty salaries with their club teams. They derive a much lower percentage of their income from their work with the national team than the women. Zimmerman himself just signed a new contract with Nashville SC that will pay him at least $10 million over the next four years. Other USMNT players in MLS, like Jesus Ferreira, Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and DeAndre Yedlin, are either making more than, or just under, $1 million per year. European-based stars like Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams likely make significantly more. For context, newly-minted USWNT forward Trinity Rodman signed the richest contract in NWSL history with the Washington Spirit this spring. It’s for four years and a total of $1.1 million

Zimmerman was quoted in the press release announcing the deal saying that he hopes the agreements “will awaken others to the need for this type of change, and will inspire FIFA and others around the world to move in the same direction.” He deferred comment to a later date when asked if the men have any plans to take advantage of the increased media attention that will be on them in the run-up to this fall’s World Cup in Qatar to lobby FIFA to make changes, but he, Purce and Parlow Cone all spoke about their hope that this deal will help make things more equitable between men’s and women’s national teams across the world. “This is going to have ramifications throughout not only the footballing world, but the sports world,” Cone said. “I’m really proud that we were the first country (to equalize prize money), but I would certainly hope we’re not the last. I will work to continue to encourage CONCACAF and FIFA to move in this direction as well. I think we do have willing partners there, but I don’t think things are going to move as fast as we would all like for them to.”The more immediate story here revolves around the WNT, as the new CBA was the key to their settlement with U.S. Soccer concerning the equal pay lawsuit. The federation and players announced their agreement to settlement terms on Feb. 22, though that deal was contingent upon the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement. With that ratification from both players associations and the U.S. Soccer board of directors, the settlement process can be resolved following approval from both the class members (the players) and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.For the federation, there’s plenty of reason to celebrate two new CBAs and the final resolution of the equal pay lawsuit, but more than anything it’s the end of their public battle with the USWNT, which has cost U.S. Soccer in many ways beyond the legal fees, including sponsorship deals and public perception.It’s also another win for Cone in her role as president, with multiple sources from the women’s national team indicating that the final deal on equal pay and the CBAs wouldn’t have happened without her guidance. Thirty-two WNT players were willing to publicly endorse Cone over former president Carlos Cordeiro, who resigned in 2020 amid ferocious criticism over USSF court filings in the equal pay lawsuit that disparaged women’s players, ahead of March’s USSF presidential election.“Getting to a deal doesn’t automatically rebuild the trust,” Cone said. “We still have a lot of work to do, and that’s on us.” Wednesday will be claimed as a historic day by all sides, but there’s also no overlooking the actual impacts on the players’ lives, particularly on the women’s side. Asked if she had a favorite part of the new deal, Purce had an immediate answer.“You know, you’re not the first person to ask me this,” she said, laughing. “The money.”

USMNT weekend viewing guide: It all comes down to this

Will they stay or will they drop?

By jcksnftsn  May 20, 2022, 10:42am PDT  

After a nine months of weekly struggle, it still all comes down to a single match for the difference between playing in the top division or being relegated a level. It’s an understatement to say this is a massive impact to the clubs including all the financial implications and player decisions that will result based on the outcomes of this weekend. It should be exciting, particularly for our USMNT players involved, so let’s get to it.

Saturday

Brentford v Leeds United – 11a on Peacock

No team with USMNG connections has more to play for this weekend than Jesse Marsch and Leeds United. Leeds find themselves in 18th place heading into the final weekend, and they will be heading to the Championship unless they are able to make up ground on Burnley on Sunday. Thursday was a rough off day for Leeds, as they saw Everton win to secure safety and Burnley play to a draw, which was enough to bring them level with Leeds on points. Thanks to a 20 goal advantage in goal differential, Burnley now have the leg up and Leeds will need to jump them in points on Sunday to earn safety. Of course, this means that Leeds aren’t entirely in control of their own destiny, as they could win on Sunday and still be relegated if Burnley also win. But, a win would significantly improve their chances, as a draw would mean that Burnley would have to lose. A Leeds loss means they are relegated regardless of the Burnley result.

Leeds have just one point from their last four matches and haven’t won a game since their 3-0 win over relegation-bound Watford six weeks ago. Their opponent this weekend is Brentford, who currently sit in 11th place. Leeds needed a late stoppage time goal to secure a point the last time the teams met in December.

Broadcast matches:

  • The Columbus Crew will face Kellyn Acosta and league leading LAFC at 3:30p on TUDN and Unimas.
  • Walker Zimmerman and Nashville SC will take on Atlanta United at 7:30p on Fox.

Streaming overseas:

  • Christian Pulisic and Chelsea FC finish their season with a match against Watford at 11a on Peacock. Chelsea are essentially locked into third place with a three point and 18 goal differential advantage over Tottenham.
  • Yunus Musah’s Valencia finish their season with a match against Celta Vigo. Valencia trail Celta Vigo by a point and the two clubs sit in 10th and 11th place. Musah has started just one of the past four matches and did not make it off the bench last weekend.
  • Timothy Weah and Lille face Rennes at 3p on beIN Sports. Weah scored his first goal of the season and added an assist last weekend in Lille’s 3-1 win over Nice.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • FC Cincinnati host Matt Turner and the New England Revolution at 6p.
  • DC United and Toronto FC kickoff has been pushed back to 6:30p due to high temperatures. The two teams are five spots apart in the Eastern Conference standings but separated by just two points.

Sunday

FC Dallas v Minnesota United – 7p on ESPN+

Jesús Ferreira continued his hot start to the season on Wednesday, picking up his second assist to go along with a league-leading nine goals through thirteen matches. Dallas would go on to lose to league worst Vancouver 2-1 but remain in third place, just a point behind league-leading Austin FC and LAFC. Paul Arriola was the beneficiary of Ferreira’s assist as Jesús found him making the run alone on the right side of the box and Arriola was able to easily slot it away.

This weekend, Dallas will face a Minnesota United side who currently sit in ninth place in the Western Conference, seven points back of Dallas. There aren’t many USMNT connections on the Minnesota side, though there is a certain William Alexander Trapp that might bring back some memories.

Broadcast matches:

  • The Portland Timbers host the Philadelphia Union at 10p on FS1. Paxten Aaronson, Jack McGlynn, and Quinn Sullivan all got some run for Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia on Wednesday in their scoreless draw with Inter Miami.

Streaming overseas:

  • Matt Miazga will bring his time with Deportivo Alavés to a close when Alavés face Cadiz at 2p on ESPN+. Alavés will be relegated while Cadiz currently sit in 18th place but are tied on points with Mallorca and and a point behind Granada so safety isn’t out of the question.
  • There are rumors that Matthew Hoppe could be leaving Mallorca this summer as well after making just five appearances for the club over the course of this past season. First, Mallorca will look to secure a spot in La Liga for next season when they face Osasuana at 2p on ESPN+.
  • Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessmann and Venezia get their last taste of Serie A action for at least a year when they face Cagliari at 3p on Paramount+. Cagliari need a win and a Salernitana loss or they will be joining Venezia in Serie B for the 2022-23 campaign.

MLS Mashup (all matches on ESPN+):

  • Djordje Mihailović and CF Montreal face Real Salt Lake at 4p on ESPN+.
  • New York City FC and the Chicago Fire kick off at 5p. Gaga Slonina and the Chicago Fire haven’t won a match since mid-March and currently sit bottom of the table.
  • DeAndre Yedlin and Inter Miami host Aaron Long and the New York Red Bulls at 6p. Caden Clark is also recently returned for NYRB but did not make it off the bench on Wednesday.
  • The San Jose Earthquakes face Sporting Kansas City at 7:30p. If you’re looking for some fireworks, keep an eye on this one as a man has been sent off in four of SKC’s last five matches, including four reds being handed out in their match with Colorado on Wednesday!
  • In one of the more surprising early season standing results, Austin FC currently hold the league’s best record and will now host Orlando City at 8p Sunday evening.
  • The Colorado Rapids will host Jordan Morris, Cristian Roldan and the Seattle Sounders. The Sounders have won their past two league matches after a slow start to their regular season.

RB Leipzig must win DFB-Pokal after strong Bundesliga finish to a tough season

12:38 PM ET  Derek Rae

ESPN’s lead Bundesliga commentator Derek Rae is in Berlin for the DFB-Pokal Final (stream LIVE, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+ in the U.S.) between Freiburg and Leipzig. He reflects on the twists and turns of RB Leipzig‘s season. Will it end with the club’s first major trophy or in tears and soul searching for a club still denied wider acceptance.

It has become fashionable to mock RB Leipzig’s fan support or more accurately, the lack of it. Not even the recent Europa League semifinal decider at Ibrox against Rangers could tempt more than a handful to make the journey, something that would have been a special, once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage for supporters of better-established clubs.

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This week in the German capital, RB Leipzig will be hoping to change perceptions about themselves as a club and an entity. It must be said it’s a pretty straightforward train journey from Leipzig to Berlin and in good times, it’s a drive of little more than two hours along the A9 Autobahn. So you would worry if they weren’t going to take a large travelling support for Saturday’s showdown at the Olympiastadion. In fact, an estimated 27,000 from the Heldenstadt (“city of heroes”) will descend on the western part of Berlin and they even have their own stage show and fan march planned. It’s a sizeable number, but they will be in the decided minority in a different way. Meanwhile, 99.9999% of Germany’s football fans are willing on Freiburg, the ultimate organic community club who stand in contrast to the Leipzig business model, one that many still argue is at odds with the essence of German football culture.

Among Leipzig fans, is there a reaction of “nobody likes us but we don’t care?” More precise would be “nobody likes us but we will just remain quiet about that and not make too much of a fuss.”

Austin Lindberg

And so will Saturday, in Berlin’s Westend district, be the night when RBL start to look north and usher in an era of trophy lifts? A first major honour beckons, after all: the Regionalliga Nordost and Sachsen Pokal were nice to win during the club’s infancy, but they don’t quite qualify.

At the start of the season, there was considerable optimism within the club. Jesse Marsch was part of the family, true to the Ralf Rangnick counter-pressing approach and blessed, by his own admission, with the deepest, most comprehensive squad in the entire Bundesrepublik. I’ve written before about why the marriage between Marsch and Leipzig simply had to be terminated before it became too late to salvage a Champions League place. Essentially the team had moved on stylistically to ball-control football under Julian Nagelsmann, and Marsch’s back-to-the-future approach wasn’t going to work.

Leipzig CEO Oliver Mintzlaff recently said that Marsch was trying to change too much, too soon. Either way, the players wanted a possession game, and that’s what they got under new man Domenico Tedesco, who really began to hit his stride come the turn of the year. Squad members in various interviews have expressed their contentment at things since his arrival.

Leipzig have been the form team for a good portion of the Rückrunde (second half of the season). If you go strictly by the numbers, they have been the best team in the league since the winter break: Between early January and late April, they lost just one of their 20 competitive matches and that was 3-2 away to Rekordmeister Bayern. It has looked a lot more like “Nagelsmann football,” too, with a return to a back-three defense and the banishment of the overly hectic, wild style favoured by Marsch.

Tyler Adams has a hidden love of art

Tyler Adams takes Alexis Nunes to a museum in Leipzig to explain his love for art.

I was genuinely beginning to think that had it not been for the ill-fated Marsch period, Leipzig would perhaps be on a winning course for the Meisterschale. But something strange has happened to RBL in the past few weeks and it must surely be down to the Belastungssteuerung, a great German word for “excessive work load.” You could detect a big dip, even in victory away to Leverkusen just before their Pokal semifinal date with Union. Leipzig then appeared nervous and twitchy in the first half against the robust Unioner, and were frankly fortunate that Emil Forsberg‘s late header to clinch a place in the final wiped out memories of a skittish, under-par performance.

Facing Union at home again three days later, Leipzig struggled once more and this time let the game slip from their grasp in the closing stages. It was a portent of disappointments to come against Gladbach, but most noticeably over the two meetings with Rangers when on squad strength, RBL were favourites to go through to the final in Seville.

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This tag of being the “nearly team that can’t quite get it over the line” is something Leipzig would prefer to shed — and not just in European competition. Leipzig have lost their two previous DFB-Pokal finals … albeit against Bayern and Dortmund respectively. In Freiburg, a bit like against Union and Rangers, they will face the ultimate Mentalitätsmonster (thanks to a certain Jurgen Klopp, some in the English speaking world already know this word.) They must be especially careful in defending set-pieces.

The positive for Tedesco and Leipzig is they have already nailed down their Champions League place for next season, although it was a much closer shave than it really should have been.

When Leipzig are at their best, they still need a balance between their newest stars — the fabulous Christopher Nkunku and talented Dani Olmo being the prime examples — and the old guard. Peter Gulacsi, Emil Forsberg and Yusuf Poulsen provide this link to the club’s recent past, when the club was in a rush to ascend the divisions. Continuity is important.

As against Rangers, Leipzig are favourites to beat Freiburg tomorrow even though both Bundesliga meetings of the sides this season ended in 1-1 draws. This and the fact that they finished a mere three points apart suggests a final played at eye level.

German football fans recognise that for all their reservations about RB Leipzig, sooner or later, a trophy will come their way. Their advantage in terms of resources over most of the rest of the Bundesliga virtually ensures this. Whatever happens on Saturday, at least no one will accuse RB Leipzig of not having enough of their own fans on site to witness a key moment in their history.

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