European soccer news: Dortmund end ‘Klassiker’ losing streak vs. Bayern, Barca keep pressure on Madrid

European club soccer is back after an exciting international break!

On Saturday, Manchester City thumped Liverpool in the Women’s Super League to extend their lead at the top of the table. In the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen’s late comeback win and Bayern Munich’s loss to Borussia Dortmund has the title race all but sealed.

Meanwhile, Tyler Adams made a much-anticipated return to the Premier League with Bournemouth, and in LaLiga, Barcelona clinched a win over 10-man Las Palmas.

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The lead: Bayern Munich come up short as Dortmund end their Klassiker losing streak

One day after Xabi Alonso announced that he would stay at Bayer Leverkusen and a few hours after his team edged out another comeback win, Bayern Munich were tasked with beating Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga’s Der Klassiker order to keep their slim championship chances alive. Dortmund had suffered nine consecutive defeats away against Bayern before Saturday’s game, but the Edin Terzic-led side were able to buck the trend by showing an almost flawless performance at Munich’s Allianz Arena, beating Bayern 2-0.

What helped the rather defensively-minded guests tremendously was Karim Adeyemi‘s early go-ahead goal. In the lead-up, Thomas Müller lost the ball and thus enabled Dortmund to set up a counterattack, with Julian Brandt eventually finding Adeyemi on the left side who then escaped Matthijs de Ligt before putting the ball past goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, who replaced an injured Manuel Neuer.

In the aftermath of Dortmund’s first goal, Bayern looked occasionally desperate to find a way through the guest’s defense. The defending champions missed Aleksandar Pavlovic‘s presence in central midfield. Even though the 19-year-old has only made 13 appearances thus far, he has become the creative driver for Bayern’s build-up. As Pavlovic was out due to an illness, Leon Goretzka and Konrad Laimer, the two midfielders in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1, were mostly unable to break down Dortmund’s defensive structure.

And if Bayern managed to get into Dortmund’s penalty area, Mats Hummels was ready to clean house. The 35-year-old showed incredible composure and positional awareness in a high-profile game once again, which may lead to more clamoring for him to be picked by Germany national coach Julian Nagelsmann for the Euro 2024.

Thomas Tuchel, Nagelsmann’s successor at Bayern, has to digest yet another setback this season, as the home loss leaves his team 13 points behind Bundesliga table leaders Leverkusen with seven games remaining. Meanwhile, Dortmund have tightened their hold on fourth place, with Terzic’s sight being set on qualifying for next season’s Champions League competition. — Constantin Eckner

Saturday talking points around the leagues

Barca keep the pressure on Real Madrid

Barcelona’s revival since coach Xavi Hernández announced he will step down in the summer continued with a 1-0 win over 10-man Las Palmas at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday as they closed the gap on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to five points. Raphinha scored the only goal as Barça made it 11 games without defeat since Xavi made his decision public.

The victory over Las Palmas was never really in doubt once visiting goalkeeper Álvaro Valles was sent off for a foul on Raphinha in the 24th minute, but Barça still had to work hard to secure the three points. Raphinha had a goal ruled out for offside prior to Valles’ dismissal, with the Brazilian then firing wide and Robert Lewandowski hitting the bar from good chances after the keeper was given his marching orders.

The opener eventually arrived on the hour mark, João Félix cutting in from the left before delivering a perfect cross for Raphinha to expertly nod into the top corner. Felix then went from hero to villain, smashing the bar from two yards with the goal gaping after good work from Jules Koundé. The Portuguese forward was not made to pay for his miss, though, despite some late Las Palmas pressure, with Alberto Moleiro the side netting away from an equalizer.

Given their recent upturn in form — and the bigger tasks ahead, such as Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarterfinal next and a trip to Madrid later this month — Xavi will perhaps tolerate his team’s prolificacy in attack here, especially as it came paired with a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the league.

Barça now have 10 days to wait until that first leg in Paris, with LaLiga pausing for the Copa del Rey final next weekend, although thoughts seemed to turn to that game already in the second half with Lewandowski and João Cancelo picking up cheap bookings that will rule them out of the next league game. That is a trip to Cadiz, sandwiched in between those two massive PSG fixtures, meaning Lewandowski and Cancelo can now give Luis Enrique’s team their full attention. — Sam Marsden

Cityzens go marching on vs. Liverpool

In less than 10 minutes at Prenton Park, Manchester City turned a midfielder stalemate into a 3-0 advantage that Liverpool couldn’t come back from, eventually losing 4-1.

It was Saturday lunchtime’s clash of philosophies: City with a firm starting XI, and a coach who had preached the need to perfect “Plan A” rather than having Plans B, C and D lined up. And Liverpool under Matt Beard, adapting all the way through the season in attempt to stifle their changing opposition and work on the balance to allow them to play in a way that suits those available in red. The plan for Beard worked over the first 15 minutes, City were largely nullified and Rachael Laws was a spectator in the home goal but unable to clear City’s first effort of the game, when the hosts were instantly pegged back as the ball dropped kindly for Lauren Hemp to tuck home.

One fast became two when Jessica Park wriggled around in the final third before firing home by way of the far post. Bunny Shaw’s first of the afternoon was an audacious strike from outside the box that had the hosts wondering how the game had gotten away from them. Although each goal carried its own personality, it was testament to the way City have perfected that Plan A, and how easily their attackers and midfielders intermingle on the pitch, routinely able to find space to occupy as they progress the ball into dangerous areas.

A plumb Shaw header started the second half as City looked to better their goal difference, chasing down Chelsea’s spot at the top of the WSL table, but Liverpool’s adjustments helped to contain their visitors. Taylor Hinds’ late, late strike from range gave the hosts something to cheer about and reduce City’s goal advantage over Chelsea back down to one. The Blues still have a game in hand, and the title fight goes down to the wire. — Sophie Lawson

Americans Abroad: Balogun nets brace, Adams makes winning return

Tyler Adams made his first start in the Premier League for Bournemouth since Mar. 2023, and what a return it was. The 25-year-old midfielder played 90 minutes, and put in an excellent defensive shift, helping the Cherries to a 2-1 victory over Everton.

Folarin Balogun netted twice for AS Monaco against Metz after coming on as substitute in the 66th minute. The USMNT striker will hope this brace opens the floodgates, as his goalscoring form (eight goals this season) has not been at the standard of last season’s, when he scored 22 goals for Reims. Monaco currently sit in second place in the league table, 10 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Brenden Aaronson was subbed off in the 65th minute in Union Berlin’s goalless draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. On loan from Leeds United, Aaronson managed two shots during the game but was unable to make the difference. He has two goals for Union this season, who sit in 12th place.

Timothy Weah and Weston McKennie both came on as substitutes in Juventus’ 1-0 defeat to Lazio. Weah has only scored one goal for the club this season, while McKennie has contributed seven assists so far. With Saturday’s loss, Juventus fall into third place in the table behind AC Milan and Internazionale. — SherShah Atif

News of the day

  • Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique has said he still holds hope that Kylian Mbappé could “change his mind” and remain with the club despite being strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer. Sources confirmed to ESPN in February that Mbappé had decided to join Madrid in the summer after his contract with PSG runs out. Asked if the fact that it will be Mbappé’s final chance to play in Le Classique would influence his starting lineup, Luis Enrique said: “Why will it be his final derby? Me, I’ve always remained hopeful that Kylian could change his mind — he hasn’t said anything for now. He could change his mind.”

  • Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino accused his players of lacking the hunger needed to compete in the Premier League after his side were held to a 2-2 draw at home by 10-man Burnley on Saturday. Despite Cole Palmer’s brace, struggling Burnley came from behind twice and Dara O’Shea equalised late at Stamford Bridge. “Today we didn’t show the capacity, the energy, the hunger that is the minimum to compete in the Premier League,” Pochettino said in his post-match news conference. “In the defensive phase we conceded too much. That is why I am so upset and disappointed.”

  • Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said the Bundesliga title race was “obviously” over after his side’s loss to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday left them 13 points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen with seven games remaining. “After today’s game there is no more need to count points. How many is it now? Congratulations to Leverkusen.”

And finally, on Saturday …

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen left it late once again to clinch a stoppage-time winner against Hoffenheim. After trailing 1-0 for most of the game, Leverkusen’s Robert Andrich (88th minute) and Patrik Schick (91st minute) came to the rescue and led their side to a dramatic victory.

To further illustrate how amazing the Bundesliga leaders have been this season, they’ve scored seven times in stoppage time in 2024, meanwhile Schick scored his 5th goal in his last five games. The Leverkusen train is showing no signs of slowing down as they march towards a maiden league title in extraordinary fashion. — Atif

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