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Marco Fabian collects donations for Mexico earthquake victims – bundesliga.com



Mexican midfield metronome Marco Fabian may be injured for Eintracht Frankfurt until at least the New Year, but that hasn’t stopped the fan favourite from contributing off the pitch.

Fabian’s homeland was hit by a devastating earthquake last week, in which 355 people lost their lives.

Fabian and compatriot Carlos Salcedo have made considerable donations themselves in recent days, and are now asking fans to follow suit, with Fabian taking to the stands ahead of the Eagles’ match against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday.

Watch: Fabian grateful to Eintracht Frankfurt and Germany as a whole

Click here if you would like to donate to Frankfurt’s relief effort

On Friday, Fabian visited the Eintracht store in the MyZeil shopping centre with goalkeeper Leon Bätge, also asking for donations to the Mexican cause.

Fabian or Salcedo intend to deliver the donations to a charity during their next visit to their homeland.

Click here for more Frankfurt news!



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Why Claudio Pizarro can make an immediate impact with Cologne and Jhon Cordoba



The highest scoring non-German in Bundesliga history is back in the league, but can Claudio Pizarro alone turn round a Cologne side with just one point and one goal to their name from six games? bundesliga.com digs a little deeper and takes a look what the entire Pizarro package will bring to the Billy Goats and fellow striker Jhon Cordoba.

In the press conference organised to announce the signing of one of the greatest goalscorers in Bundesliga history, Cologne coach Peter Stöger offered wise words to the gathered media. “Claudio Pizarro came onto our radar because we believe he can help us through this difficult phase. He is a strong finisher and his personality is such that he can help our team,” the Austrian tactician said.

His Cologne side looking somewhat lost at the beginning of the 2017/18 campaign, Stöger is looking to the legendary Bundesliga marksman to help find a chink of light. More than just a personality to lift the dressing-room, Pizarro can produce in front of goal.

Fans throughout the division will no doubt delight in seeing the Bundesliga’s highest non-German goalscorer of all-time back in the top-flight once more. What’s more, the player himself seems ecstatic that the opportunity to delay retirement has arisen at the Billy Goats. “My body told me I needed to be back on the pitch again and playing,” Pizarro – most recently at Werder Bremen – explained. Having almost felt like he was wandering through a desert wilderness during his brief few months out of the game, the 38-year-old has found a life source at the RheinEnergieStadion.   

Watch: Pizarro’s moment of magic

Although his last Bundesliga game came almost four months ago, the former Bayern Munich man remains in strikingly good shape. Having an immediate impact at his new club is not out of the question, especially considering Cologne play to Pizarro’s strengths. In what turned out to be a disappointing end to his Werder career, the striker found it tough playing as a lone forward and with his back to goal. At Cologne, he may be expected to operate quite differently.

It is, of course, highly unlikely that Pizarro will start every game or compete for a full 90 minutes. However, featuring alongside forward Jhon Cordoba might well help to bring out the best in the physically powerful Colombian. Pizarro’s presence can open spaces for Cordoba to exploit. Indeed, it is telling that the Peruvian’s arrival could end up benefitting Cordoba the most, with the pressure on the 24-year-old’s shoulders weighing heavily since his summer transfer from Mainz to replace Anthony Modeste.

The fact that Cordoba will now have a fellow Spanish speaker in Pizarro alongside him at the club and on the pitch may make a telling difference for the Colombian, but he also plays into the Peruvian’s hands with a complimenting style of play.

Even in his heyday, Pizarro was never the big target man with the mission to bring the ball down, hold it up and all players around him to move into space. His job was always to be the predator in the box, pouncing on any chances to fall his way. At Bayern, he played alongside the likes of Roy Makaay, Roque Santa Cruz and Carsten Jancker who would be that target man and allow Pizarro to do his job in the box. He now has the ideal partner in crime once again in Cordoba.

It may require a change of tactics and approach from boss Stöger to accommodate the South American pair, but having them in tandem would surely be the way to get the best out of both and take advantage of having one of the league’s all-time greats in the squad.

Watch: Pizarro’s goals against former clubs Bayern and Bremen

It is unlikely that Claudio Pizarro will net double figures for Cologne this season, but he could be the building block the team needs as they seek to find a way off the bottom of the standings. As Peter Stöger said, Pizarro’s personality both on the pitch and in the dressing room, may provide the spark that fires Cologne’s thus far stuttering campaign, but it’s also about utilising him in the right manner.

Florian Reinecke

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UEFA Europa League – Zlín-København – Zlín v København background


Zlín and København are both waiting for their first goals in UEFA Europa League Group F, with the visitors on matchday three yet to concede in the section too.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and this is Zlín’s first encounter with Danish opponents.

• København’s record in ten games against Czech clubs is W3 D2 L5 (W2 L3 in Czech Republic).


Highlights: Lokomotiv Moskva 3-0 Zlín

Form guide
• Zlín have not scored in their last five European matches (D3 L2) – two this season and three in the 2005 UEFA Intertoto Cup.

• Both of København’s Group F games have ended goalless.

• Zlín’s 3-0 loss at Lokomotiv Moskva on matchday two was their heaviest defeat in European competition to date.

• Zlín won the Czech Cup for the first time last season; the Ševci (Cobblers) have not played European football since 2005 and are making their group stage debut.

• Beaten on away goals by Qarabağ in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, København have failed to progress in their last three UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns.

Highlights: Sheriff 0-0 København


Highlights: Sheriff 0-0 København

Trivia and links
• The journey from Copenhagen to Olomouc, where Zlín are playing their European home games, is around 750km.

• København have a Czech defender, Michael Lüftner who played for Teplice (2012–16) and Slavia Praha (2017) in his domestic league.

• København’s Federico Santander and Zlín’s Jean-David Beauguel were team-mates at Toulouse in 2010/11 – though the latter was a youth-team player at the time.

The coaches
• Bohumil Páník started his coaching career with Zlín in 2000, and returned to the club in 2014, his adventures in between times including spells with Lech Poznań and Pogoń Szczecin in Poland. He guided Zlín to Czech Cup glory in 2016/17.

• Ståle Solbakken’s second coaching tenure at København began in 2013. He has won seven Danish titles with FCK, including five in his first spell from 2006–11. The former Norway midfielder has also led Köln and Wolverhampton.



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UEFA Europa League – Sheriff-Lokomotiv Moskva – Sheriff v Lokomotiv Moskva background


Sheriff have been specialising in goalless draws in Europe this season, but may find a clean sheet hard to come by against Lokomotiv Moskva in UEFA Europa League Group F.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, but came together in the semi-finals of the 2003 Commonwealth of Independent States Cup – a competition for the champions of the former Soviet nations. Sheriff won 1-0 although Lokomotiv fielded a reserve team, with the seniors away from Moscow on a training camp.

• All four of Sheriff’s previous UEFA games against Russian teams ended in draws, while Lokomotiv have not played a Moldovan side in a UEFA match before.


Highlights: Sheriff 0-0 København

Form guide
• Sheriff are on a run of three consecutive 0-0 draws, and four draws in total; including UEFA Champions League qualifying, five of their last six ties in Europe this season have ended level (four of them 0-0).

• Lokomotiv are unbeaten in three in Europe (W2 D1), and – like Sheriff – have yet to concede in Group F.

• Moldovan champions Sheriff featured in the 2009/10, 2010/11 and 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stages, but are still to appear in the spring phase of a UEFA competition.

• Lokomotiv are contesting the UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage for a fifth time, and have failed just once to reach the round of 32 – finishing bottom of their group in 2007/08.

Highlights: Lokomotiv Moskva 3-0 Zlín


Highlights: Lokomotiv Moskva 3-0 Zlín

Trivia and links
• The journey from Moscow to Tiraspol is just over 1,100km.

• Sheriff defender Vitalie Bordian played for Lokomotiv from 2002–04 – without making a senior appearance – and later returned to Russia with Volga Nizhny Novgorod (2012–14).

• Lokomotiv’s Manuel Fernandes scored the second hat-trick of the 2017/18 group stage on matchday two, hitting three in the opening 17 minutes against Zlín.

• On-loan Lokomotiv forward Éder struck the extra-time winning goal for Portugal in the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France.

The coaches
• In charge of Sheriff since October 2016, Roberto Bordin is best known in his native Italy for his long career as a midfielder, taking in spells at Atalanta, Napoli and Piacenza. He was 40 when he finally hung up his boots at Spezia in 2005.

• Yuri Semin took charge of Lokomotiv for a fourth time in August 2016, having lifted the club’s only two Russian titles during his second stint from 1992–2005. He also played for Loko from 1975–77, and coached Dynamo Kyiv to the 2008/09 Ukrainian championship.



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UEFA Europa League – Braga-Ludogorets – Braga v Ludogorets background


Braga will seek to extend their continental winning streak to six games as they welcome a Ludogorets side short of away success in UEFA Europa League Group C.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time; neither has previously played a team from their opponents’ home country.

• Portuguese sides have had the better of the 16 UEFA club competition encounters with Bulgarian clubs: W9 D5 L2.

• Ludogorets will look to become the first Bulgarian team to win a UEFA club competiton game in Portugal (D1 L7).


Highlights: Braga 2-1 Istanbul Başakşehir

Form guide
• Unbeaten in six European matches this season, Braga are on a five-game winning streak in the UEFA Europa League.

• Ludogorets are undefeated in five European matches (W3 D2), but are without a win in nine UEFA away games (D6 L3).

• Fifth in Portugal last term, and runners-up in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, Braga are competing in this group stage for the third straight season.

• Bulgarian champions Ludogorets got to the round of 16 in their only previous UEFA Europa League group stage campaign of 2013/14 – and played in last season’s round of 32 after transferring from the UEFA Champions League.

Highlights: Ludogorets 2-1 Hoffenheim


Highlights: Ludogorets 2-1 Hoffenheim

Trivia and links
• The journey from Razgrad to Braga is around 2,850km.

• The fixture is taking place the day after Braga midfielder Fransérgio’s 27th birthday.

The coaches
• At the helm since April 2017, Abel Ferreira was previously Braga’s B team coach. A right-back, he graduated from home-town side Penafiel to Vitória Guimarães, Braga and Sporting CP, where he won two Portuguese Cups before retiring in 2011.

• Hired in summer 2017, Ludogorets boss Dimitar Dimitrov established his coaching reputation at home-town club Neftochimik Burgas and landed Bulgarian titles with Litex Lovech and Levski Sofia, later coaching in Russia and Kazakhstan.



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UEFA Europa League – Everton-Lyon – Everton v Lyon background


Everton will look to shake off an opening salvo of UEFA Europa League Group E disappointments against a Lyon side who won their only previous game on Merseyside.

Previous meetings
• The teams are meeting for the first time.

• Everton did not concede in their only previous matches against French sides, drawing 0-0 away and winning 3-0 at home against LOSC Lille in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Lyon’s 16 games against English teams ended W3 D7 L6 (W2 D1 L5 in England). One of those away victories came in their only previous match on Merseyside – they beat Liverpool 2-1 in the 2009/10 UEFA Champions League group stage, César Delgado scoring the added-time winner.


Highlights: Everton 2-2 Apollon

Form guide
• Everton are without a victory in three UEFA games (D2 L1).

• Lyon have not won in their last four away matches in Europe (D1 L3).

• Seventh in the 2016/17 Premier League, Everton have advanced through all three of their previous UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, most recently in 2014/15.

• Semi-finalists last season, when they lost to Ajax having transferred from the UEFA Champions League group stage, Lyon have won their last four UEFA Europa League home fixtures.

Highlights: Lyon 1-1 Atalanta


Highlights: Lyon 1-1 Atalanta

Trivia and links
• The journey from Lyon to Liverpool is around 1,000km.

• Everton’s Wayne Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin played alongside Lyon’s Rafael and Memphis Depay at Manchester United.

• Several Everton players have French league experience:
Morgan Schneiderlin (Strasbourg 2006–08)
Kevin Mirallas (LOSC Lille 2004–08, St-Étienne 2008–10)
Idrissa Gueye (LOSC Lille 2010–15)
Maarten Stekelenburg (Monaco 2014–15)

• Several Lyon players have been with English clubs:
Memphis Depay (Manchester United 2015–17)
Rafael (Manchester United 2008–15)
Bertrand Traoré (Chelsea 2014–17)
Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Newcastle 2013–14)

• Lyon’s Marcelo and Everton’s Davy Klaassen can make their 50th UEFA club competition appearances on matchday three.

The coaches
• Everton manager since 2016, Ronald Koeman won European Cups as a defender with PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona, and the 1988 UEFA European Championship with the Netherlands. He subsequently landed three Dutch titles coaching Ajax and PSV.

• Born in Lyon, Bruno Génésio came through the club’s ranks as a midfielder, playing for the senior side from 1985–95, and returning as assistant coach in 2011 before taking sole command in December 2015.



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UEFA Europa League – Dynamo Kyiv-Young Boys – Dynamo Kyiv v Young Boys background


Dynamo Kyiv will want to secure a birthday victory for coach Aleksandr Khatskevich as they welcome Young Boys for the second time this season in Group B.

Previous meetings
• These teams met in this summer’s UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, Dynamo winning 3-1 at home but bowing out on away goals after a 2-0 defeat in Berne.

• Dynamo’s record in ten encounters with Swiss clubs is W5 D2 L3 (W3 D2 at home).

• Young Boys’ four matches against Ukrainian sides have produced two 2-0 home victories and two away losses by two-goal margins: 2-0 at Shakhtar in 2016 and 3-1 at Dynamo (see above).


Highlights: Partizan 2-3 Dynamo Kyiv

Form guide
• Dynamo are on a four-game home winning streak in Europe – a 6-0 success followed by three 3-1s.

• Dynamo have trailed at half-time in both of their Group B fixtures – 1-0 against Skënderbeu on matchday one and 2-0 at Partizan last time out – but scored three goals in each second half to take the points.

• Young Boys are currently winless in 11 European away games (D3 L8)

• Ukrainian Premier League runners-up in 2016/17, Dynamo reached the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals in 2010/11 and 2014/15, when they last competed in this group stage.

• Beaten home and away by CSKA Moskva in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Young Boys are contesting the UEFA Europa League group stage for a fifth time, having made it through twice in four attempts.

Highlights: Skenderbëu 1-1 Young Boys


Highlights: Skenderbëu 1-1 Young Boys

Trivia and links
• The journey from Kyiv to Berne is around 1,700km.

• Dynamo’s Derlis González played in Switzerland with Basel (2014/15).

• Dynamo’s Josip Pivarić can make his 50th UEFA club competition appearance on matchday three.

• Dynamo coach Aleksandr Khatskevich turns 44 on the day of the game.

The coaches
• Hired as coach in July 2017, Aleksandr Khatskevich won seven league titles as a Dynamo player from 1996–2004, and later worked with their youth and reserve teams. The 38-times capped international coached his native Belarus from 2014–16.

• Austrian coach Adi Hütter has been in charge of Young Boys since September 2015. A midfielder who spent the bulk of his career with Salzburg, he returned to lead the club to a domestic double in 2014/15 after managerial spells at Altach and Grödig.



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UEFA Europa League – Milan-AEK – Milan v AEK Athens background


AC Milan have cut quite a dash in their opening UEFA Europa League Group D games, and will look to make it three high-scoring wins from three as AEK Athens return to San Siro.

Previous meetings
• These teams met in the 1994/95 and 2006/07 UEFA Champions League group stages; Milan won both of their home games (2-1 and 3-0) but failed to score in two trips to Athens (0-0 and 0-1).

• Milan’s record in eight matches against Greek sides is W4 D3 L1 – that sole defeat being the 1-0 at AEK in November 2006, decided by a Júlio César goal.

• AEK’s record in 17 encounters with Serie A clubs is W2 D6 L9, though four of the six most recent fixtures ended in draws.


Highlights: Milan 3-2 Rijeka

Form guide
• Milan have won all six of their European games this season.

• AEK are unbeaten in their last four matches in Europe (W2 D2).

• Sixth in Italy last term, Milan are making their first appearance in the UEFA Europa League group stage since reaching the round of 32 in the last-ever UEFA Cup campaign of 2008/09.

• Winners of Greece’s end-of-season UEFA Champions League play-offs, AEK have had five previous UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns, most recently 2011/12. They have only once got to the round of 32, in 2007/08.

Highlights: AEK 2-2 Austria Wien


Highlights: AEK 2-2 Austria Wien

Trivia and links
• The journey from Athens to Milan is around 1,500km.

• Milan, Nice and Zenit are the group stage’s leading scorers with eight goals each – an average of four a game. Milan’s André Silva, Nice’s Alassane Pléa and Zenit’s Aleksandr Kokorin share top spot in the individual chart with four apiece.

• Milan goalkeeper Antonio Donnarumma played in Greece last season with Asteras Tripolis.

• Several AEK players have played for Italian clubs:
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (Bologna 2013–14, Verona 2014–15, Sampdoria 2015–16)
Uroš Ćosić (Pescara 2012–15, Empoli 2015–17)
Panagiotis Kone (Brescia 2010–11, Bologna 2011–14, Udinese 2014–15, Fiorentina 2016)

Marko Livaja (Inter 2011–13, Cesena 2011–12, Atalanta 2013–14, Empoli 2015–16)

• Livaja and Milan’s Giacomo Bonaventura were team-mates at Atalanta.

• Kone and Milan’s Nikola Kalinić played together at Fiorentina.

• This is the only major UEFA competition the Rossoneri have not won. Only Ajax, Bayern München, Chelsea, Juventus and – as of last May – Manchester United have won the European Cup/UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League and European Cup Winners’ Cup.

The coaches
• In charge since June 2016, Vincenzo Montella has led Milan back into Europe for the first time since 2013/14. A Serie A winner as a striker with Roma in 2000/01, he has since coached Fiorentina and Sampdoria.

• Manolo Jiménez returned for a second spell as AEK coach in January 2017, having guided the club to 2010/11 Greek Cup glory during his first stint. The former Sevilla left-back has also coached Sevilla, Real Zaragoza and al-Rayyan.



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UEFA Europa League – Skënderbeu-Partizan – Skënderbeu v Partizan background


Skënderbeu will bid to spark early birthday celebrations for coach Ilir Daja as they welcome Partizan in UEFA Europa League Group B.

Previous meetings
• These sides are meeting for the first time in UEFA competition, and it is Skënderbeu’s first encounter with Serbian opponents.

• Partizan’s only past tie against an Albanian team came in the first round of the 1987/88 UEFA Cup, when they went out to Flamurtari – losing 2-0 away and winning 2-1 at home.


Highlights: Skenderbëu 1-1 Young Boys

Form guide
• Skënderbeu are unbeaten in five European home games this season (W3 D2), but have not won any of their last four UEFA matches (D3 L1).

• Partizan are unbeaten in six UEFA away games (D2 L4) – their home record during the same spell is W1 D2 L3.

• Albanian Cup runners-up last term, Skënderbeu were the first Albanian side to contest a major UEFA group stage when they featured in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League.

• Serbian league and cup winners in 2016/17, Partizan have reached the UEFA Europa League group stage for the fifth time in the competition’s current incarnation, but are yet to progress to the round of 32.

Highlights: Partizan 2-3 Dynamo Kyiv


Highlights: Partizan 2-3 Dynamo Kyiv

Trivia and links
• The journey from Belgrade to Korce is around 460km.

• Partizan are the most-fouled team in the group stage, with 47 infringements against them in the first two matchdays.

• Skënderbeu coach Ilir Daja turns 51 the day after this match.

The coaches
• Appointed at the start of 2017, Ilir Daja led Skënderbeu to a losing appearance in the Albanian Cup final but then steered them into this group stage. A former midfielder with Tirana, he has guided Elbasan and Dinamo Tirana to domestic championships as a coach.

• Miroslav Djukić was assigned a second stint as Partizan coach in June 2017, having occupied the helm in 2007. The 48-times capped Yugoslavia sweeper played in Spain with Deportivo and Valencia, and spent much of the last decade coaching there too.



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UEFA Europa League – Villarreal-Slavia Praha – Villarreal v Slavia Praha background


Villarreal will look to extend Slavia Praha’s ten-year wait for a European away victory as the sides meet in their third UEFA Europa League Group A game.

Previous meetings
• The teams are facing each other for the first time.

• Villarreal are unbeaten in seven encounters with Czech clubs: W5 D2.

• Slavia have won only one of their eight games against Spanish opposition – 2-0 against Celta Vigo in a 2003 UEFA Champions League qualifier. Their overall record: W1 D3 L4 (D2 L2 in Spain).


Highlights: M. Tel-Aviv 0-0 Villarreal

Form guide
• Villarreal are unbeaten in three European matches (W2 D1).

• Slavia are without a win in 19 UEFA away fixtures (D9 L10) since a 1-0 victory at Ajax in August 2007.

• Semi-finalists in 2015/16 when they lost to Liverpool, Villarreal are featuring in a fourth consecutive UEFA Europa League group stage, having progressed safely in each of the last three.

• Edged out by APOEL in this season’s UEFA Champions League play-offs, Slavia made it through the UEFA Cup group stage in 2005/06, but missed the cut in 2008/09 and also fell short in their only previous UEFA Europa League group campaign of 2009/10.

Highlights: Astana 1-1 Slavia Praha


Highlights: Astana 1-1 Slavia Praha

Trivia and links
• The journey from Prague to Villarreal is around 1,600km.

• Slavia midfielder Miroslav Stoch turns 28 on the day of the game.

• Villarreal share with Anderlecht the record of getting through the UEFA Europa League group stage five times.

• The duo’s Group A rivals Maccabi are one of three teams to have come all the way from first qualifying round to group stage this term, along with Crvena zvezda and Skënderbeu.

The coaches
• A Czechoslovak league runner-up in 1992/93 as a Slavia midfielder, Jaroslav Šilhavý returned to the club after a 22-year absence in September 2016. And having won the Czech crown as Liberec boss in 2011/12, he triumphed again with Slavia in 2017.

• Villarreal dismissed coach Fran Escribá on 25 September in the wake of a 4-0 defeat at Getafe. He had been in charge since 2016, leading the team to a fifth-placed Liga finish last season.

• Villarreal’s new coach is Javier Calleja, who represented them as a player from 1999–2006, and returned to El Madrigal as a youth coach after hanging up his boots. He was coaching the B team when he was called upon to replace Escribá.



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UEFA Europa League – Atalanta-Apollon – Atalanta v Apollon background


Atalanta have made a positive start in UEFA Europa League Group E but know from Everton‘s matchday two experience that Apollon Limassol are not to be underestimated.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and it is Atalanta’s first encounter with Cypriot opponents.

• Apollon are yet to win in four matches against Serie A teams – two away defeats and two home draws.

• No club from Cyprus has beaten Italian opposition in 22 UEFA competition matches, with all 12 previous games between the countries’ clubs in Italy producing home victories. These include AC Milan’s nominal ‘away’ fixture against Dighenis Akritas Morphou in the 1971/72 UEFA Cup, which was played in Trieste.


Highlights: Lyon 1-1 Atalanta

Form guide
• Atalanta are unbeaten in six European home games (W3 D3), a run stretching back to a 2-1 loss to Mechelen in the 1988 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals.

• Apollon are unbeaten in five in Europe (W2 D3), including draws in their three most recent matches.

• Fourth in Serie A last term, Atalanta are returning to Europe for the first time since 1990/91, when they were eliminated by Internazionale in the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.

• Apollon competed in back-to-back UEFA Europa League group stages in 2013/14 and 2014/15, but have yet to make it to the round of 32. They finished third in Cyprus last season, also beating champions APOEL in the domestic cup final.

Highlights: Everton 2-2 Apollon


Highlights: Everton 2-2 Apollon

Trivia and links
• The journey from Limassol to Reggio Emilia, where Atalanta are playing their European home games, is around 2,200km.

• Apollon’s Valentin Roberge became the first player to be sent off in this season’s group stage when he was dismissed at Everton on matchday two.

• Vitória SC’s Guillermo Celis and Apollon’s Anton Maglica were the most-fouled players on the first two matchdays, with ten infringements on each of them.

The coaches
• A one-time Juventus youth player, Atalanta boss Gian Piero Gasperini mostly played in Italy’s lower divisions, but worked his way up to the top tier as a coach, leading Inter, Genoa and Palermo before taking the job in Bergamo in 2016.

• Sofronis Avgousti has coached home-town team Apollon since 2016, having previously served the club in three separate spells as a goalkeeper. The 11-times capped international was also on the books at AEK Larnaca, Aris Limassol and APOEL.



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UEFA Europa League – Hoffenheim-İstanbul Başakşehir – Hoffenheim v İstanbul Başakşehir background


Hoffenheim will bid to break their European duck at the fifth attempt as they take on an Istanbul Başakşehir side yet to win a UEFA away game.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time; neither has previously played a team from their opponents’ home country.

• The Turkish side has won three of the last six matches between clubs from these nations staged in Germany: W3 D2 L1.


Highlights: Ludogorets 2-1 Hoffenheim

Form guide
• Hoffenheim have lost all four of their European games to date – two in Group C plus their UEFA Champions League play-off; however, they have scored in every match and also led in two of them.

• Başakşehir are yet to win a UEFA away fixture: D3 L3.

• Beaten by Liverpool home and away in the UEFA Champions League, Hoffenheim are contesting the UEFA Europa League group stage in what is their first season in European competition.

• Eliminated by Sevilla in the UEFA Champions League play-offs, Başakşehir are making their UEFA group stage debut this term.

Highlights: Braga 2-1 Istanbul Başakşehir


Highlights: Braga 2-1 Istanbul Başakşehir

Trivia and links
• The journey from Sinsheim to Istanbul is around 1,800km.

• Başakşehir’s Tunay Torun was born in Hamburg, and played for Hamburg (2008–11), Hertha (2011–12) and Stuttgart (2012–13) in the Bundesliga.

• Tunay played alongside Hoffenheim’s Nico Schulz during his time at Hertha.

• Alparslan Erdem was also born in Germany (in Vechta) and was a trainee at Werder Bremen (2003–08) before heading to Turkey.

• Hoffenheim received seven bookings in the first two matchdays – more than any other team.

The coaches
• Hoffenheim coach Julian Nagelsmann’s playing career ended prematurely due to persistent knee problems, but he shone as a youth coach and – aged 28 – took charge of Hoffenheim in 2016, becoming the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever senior boss.

• Abdullah Avcı led Turkey to success in the 2005 UEFA European Under-17 Championship before taking the Başakşehir reins for the first time from 2006–11. He returned in 2014 following an unsuccessful stint as Turkey boss.



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UEFA Europa League – Austria Wien-Rijeka – Austria Wien v Rijeka background


Austria Wien have been in poor form in recent UEFA home matches but will look to secure a rare win as Rijeka come calling in UEFA Europa League Group D.

Previous meetings
• These sides are meeting for the first time.

• Austria’s record in six encounters with Croatian teams is W2 D2 L2, but they have yet to win at home to a Croatian club (D1 L2).

• Rijeka met Austrian opposition for the first time in this season’s UEFA Champions League third qualifying round, drawing 1-1 away and 0-0 at home against Salzburg – and winning the tie on away goals.


Highlights: AEK 2-2 Austria Wien

Form guide
• Austria Wien are without a win in six European home games (D2 L4).

• Rijeka are on a four-match European losing streak, and are winless in six UEFA fixtures (D2 L4).

• Last season’s Austrian Bundesliga runners-up, Austria Wien have not survived their last five UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage campaigns since making it to the quarter-finals of the 2004/05 competition.

• Croatian title winners for the first time last term, Rijeka are in their third UEFA Europa League group stage campaign – but have yet to reach the knockout phase.

Highlights: Milan 3-2 Rijeka


Highlights: Milan 3-2 Rijeka

Trivia and links
• The journey from Rijeka to Vienna is around 350km.

• Rijeka midfielder Alexander Gorgon joined the club from Austria Wien in 2016, having been with his home-town team since he was a teenager. He helped them win an Austrian double in 2012/13.

• Austria Wien have a Croatian player, Marko Pejić, the former Dinamo Zagreb trainee having signed after spells with Sesvete (2014) and Hajduk Split (2015–16) in his homeland.

The coaches
• Austria Wien coach since 2015, Thorsten Fink won the 2001 UEFA Champions League and several Bundesliga titles as a Bayern midfielder, and secured back-to-back Swiss championships as coach of Basel from 2009–11.

• Rijeka’s longest-serving coach, Slovenian Matjaž Kek was hired in 2013 and steered the team to their first league championship and fourth Croatian Cup in 2016/17. A defender and coach at Maribor, where his father and son also played, he was Slovenia boss from 2007–11.



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Manchester City beat Chelsea, Paris score six – UEFA Champions League – News


MAKE YOUR FANTASY CHANGES

Group A

Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace
Grasshoppers 0-0 Basel (Saturday, 19:00)
CSKA Moskva v Ufa (Sunday, 13:00)
Marítimo v Benfica (Sunday, 22:30)

Wednesday 18 October: Benfica v Man. United, CSKA v Basel


Highlights: Paris 3-0 Bayern

Group B

Paris Saint-Germain 6-2 Bordeaux
Celtic 2-2 Hibernian
Hertha Berlin v Bayern München (Sunday, 15:30)
Anderlecht v Standard Liège (Sunday, 18:00)

Wednesday 18 October: Bayern v Celtic, Anderlecht v Paris

Group C

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City
Milan v Roma (Sunday, 18:00)
Leganés v Atlético (Saturday, 20:45)
Qarabağ v Zirä FK (Sunday, 16:00)

Wednesday 18 October: Qarabağ v Atlético, Chelsea v Roma

Watch highlights of Barcelona's win in the week


Watch highlights of Barcelona’s win in the week

Group D

Barcelona v Las Palmas (Sunday, 16:15)
Atalanta v Juventus (Sunday, 20:45)
Sporting CP v Porto (Sunday, 20:15)
Olympiacos v Atromitos (Sunday, 15:00)

Wednesday 18 October: Barcelona v Olympiacos, Juventus v Sporting

Group E

Sevilla 2-0 Málaga
Spartak Moskva
2-0 Ural
Newcastle v Liverpool (Sunday, 17:30)
Maribor v Triglav (Saturday, 20:20)

Tuesday 17 October: Maribor v Liverpool, Spartak v Sevilla

Highlights: De Bruyne's midweek screamer


Highlights: De Bruyne’s midweek screamer

Group F

Chelsea 0-1 Manchester City
Shakhtar Donetsk v Karpaty (Sunday, 16:00)
Napoli v Cagliari (Sunday, 12:30)
AZ v Feyenoord (Sunday, 12:30)

Tuesday 17 October: Feyenoord v Shakhtar, Man. City v Napoli

Group G

Beşiktaş v Trabzonspor (Sunday, 18:30)
Sporting CP v Porto (Sunday, 20:15)
Monaco 1-1 Montpellier
Köln v Leipzig (Sunday, 18:00)

Tuesday 17 October: Leipzig v Porto, Monaco v Beşiktaş

Highlights: Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid


Highlights: Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid

Group H

Real Madrid v Espanyol (Sunday, 20:45)
Huddersfield 0-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Alki Oroklini v APOEL (Sunday, 19:00)
Augsburg 1-2 Borussia Dortmund

Tuesday 17 October: Real Madrid v Tottenham, APOEL v Dortmund

All times CET.



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Gabuza double extends Polokwane’s winless run


by
Bertin Basson

Saturday Sep 30, 2017. 22:17


Thamsanqa Gabuza was at the double as Orlando Pirates and Polokwane City played to a 2-2 draw in an Absa Premiership fixture at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Saturday evening.

The burly forward with a 92nd minute equaliser to deny Rise and Shine all three points, after Pirates had initially taken the lead in the Limpopo province.

Harold Ndlovu had to be alert throughout the opening stanza to keep Pirates at arms length, after he came in as a late change for George Chigova who injured himself during warm-up.

Goalless at the break.

The opening goal finally came in the 51st minute as Gabuza finished off a swift move – tapping in Thembinkosi Lorch beautifully disguised pass.

City, though, would hit right back with an eight minute blitz. The hosts profiting from two defensive blunders by the visitors.

Wayne Sandilands guilty on the first occasion as his attempted clearance sparked a City attack. Rendani Ndou on hand to finish-off from close range to send the hosts into delirium.

Ramagalela handed Rise and Shine the lead in the 69th minute. City quick to pounce after Abbubaker Mobara coughed up possession in a dangerous area as the former Mamelodi Sundowns forward continued his good start to the season.

City, though, would be denied all three points as Gabuza completed his brace in stoppage time. The forward nodding home Musa Nyatama’s hopeful pass into the area – as City remain 14th on the log stands. Pirates sit in fourth.

Polokwane City (0) 2 (Ndou 61′ Ramagalela 69′)

Orlando Pirates (0) 2 (Gabuza 51′ 90+2′)

Polokwane City: Ndlovu; Ravhuhali, Semenya, Tshilo, Maponyane, Ndou, Seabi, Maluleke (Mbonani 76′), Phiri, Ramagalela (Mngomezulu 83′), Tlolane (Musona 63′)

Orlando Pirates: Sandilands; Nyauza, Mobara (Rakhale 83′), Jele, Dube, Makola, Nyatama, Maela, Qalinge (Morrison 77′), Lorch (Shonga 67′), Gabuza



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Borussia Dortmund show grit to go with grace in Augsburg win



When the final whistle blew on Borussia Dortmund’s victory in Augsburg on Saturday afternoon, there were no wild celebrations from the visitors – as there have been following their other Bundesliga victories this season. Instead, the overriding feeling was of relief.

“We’re all happy to have taken all three points,” said Gonzalo Castro after Dortmund’s sixth league win in 2017/18. Head coach Peter Bosz was also delighted with the result, but was far from satisfied with his team’s performance: “That was the worst game we’ve played since I arrived here. We had a lot of space in the first half but we didn’t play well. In the second half we didn’t play football at all.”

Watch: Dortmund defender Marc Bartra reflects on the win in Augsburg

Such criticism did not appear to be on the cards during the first few minutes of the game, when it looked like Dortmund would carry on where they left off in the 6-1 thrashing of Borussia Mönchengladbach on Matchday 6. Andrey Yarmolenko scored a memorable maiden Bundesliga goal with a cheeky back-heel in the fourth minute, and although they were pegged back by Caiuby’s equaliser in the 11th minute, Shinji Kagawa’s sumptuous chip shortly afterwards restored BVB’s lead.

At half-time, the visitors’ appeared to be in control and seemed to be cruising towards their next win. They had enjoyed 73 per cent of possession and had ten shots on goal to Augsburg’s three. However, Augsburg – who recently went on a five-game unbeaten run – fought their way back after the interval and had a number of openings to grab an equaliser.

At the other end of the pitch, Dortmund could have killed the game off only to see top scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang miss a penalty. “Auba’s an important player for us and has already scored eight goals, he always helps us,” said Bosz. “Even he has a couple of games like this per season. Today was his first.”

Despite Dortmund’s dissatisfaction with their second-half display, there was a silver lining: BVB’s fighting spirit and will to win saw them over the line. “The team clawed their way to all three points and that was good,” said sporting director Michael Zorc. Meanwhile, centre-back Sokratis said the win marked the turning of a corner: “In the last two or three years we’d have lost or drawn games like that.”

This new quality helped Dortmund stay top of the Bundesliga table for the seventh consecutive Matchday, and they will remain there until mid October due to the international break, ahead of Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich. “We’re happy to be top and we’ll enjoy that for two weeks now,” said Castro. “But we can’t rest on our laurels because we know Bayern are always capable of coming back.”

On current evidence, though, the defending Bundesliga champions will have a fierce fight on their hands if they are to retain their title.

Maximilian Lotz reporting from Augsburg

Click here for the Augsburg – Dortmund Match Centre!



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Honours even in 107th Nordderby as Hamburg and Werder draw



A dramatic Nordderby failed to produce a winner as Hamburg and Werder Bremen played out an eventful scoreless draw at the Volksparkstion.

Both sides found themselves at the wrong end of the Bundesliga table ahead of a 107th meeting in this historic fixture. Without a win in their six previous top-flight outings, Werder nonetheless started positively. Alexander Nouri’s charges won a string of corners that ultimately failed to conjure a breakthrough, although Ishak Belfodil did come close with a back-heel following Christian Mathenia’s spill. When HSV did hit their stride, Kyriakos Papadopoulous and Bobby Wood might have done better with respective chances when well placed.

Clocking up 5km in the first half, HSV midfielder Andre Hahn ran more than any other player in the opening 45 minutes. The 27-year-old was almost sprinting away in celebration after the break when his exquisite lob had Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka scrambling back to make a dramatic fingertip save. Wood then brought another fine stop from the Czech custodian, who deflected away the USMNT forward’s drive from the right. When the action swung back the other end, Belfodil failed to convert when alone against Mathenia, the ‘keeper reacting well to deny the Algerian. Both Wood and Hunt might have snatched it for the hosts, but both spurned chances in the closing stages.    

  • Werder remain without a win this season, and currently sit in the relegation zone.
  • Hamburg ended a run of four defeats – their longest losing sequence under Markus Gisdol.
  • Hamburg have not scored a single goal in their last five games.
  • Bremen have not scored more than one goal in any of their Bundesliga games this season, drawing a blank in over half of their seven games.

Hamburg: Mathenia – Diekmeier, Papadopoulos, Jung, Sakai (c) – Hunt, Ekdal (74′), Janjicic, Ito (53′) – Hahn – Wood (Arp 89′)
Coach: Markus Gisdol

Bremen:Pavlenka – Bauer, Veljkovic, Moisander (c) – Gebre Selassie, Kainz (Junuzovic 63′), Bargfrede (Eggestein 63′), Delaney, Garcia – Bartels (Hazrovic 90′), Beldofil
Coach: Alexander Nouri

Watch: FIFA 18 predicts offered a somewhat different take on the Nordderby!

Click here for the Hamburg vs. Bremen MatchCentre!



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Neymar scores twice as Paris Saint Germain attack crushes Bordeaux


Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar were all on target again to inspire PSG’s 6-2 rout of Bordeaux.

Paris Saint-Germain went three points clear at the Ligue 1 summit after Neymar (two), Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier, Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe all scored in a 6-2 win over Bordeaux at Parc des Princes on Saturday.

Positives

Strength. After failing to impose themselves away at Montpellier last week, PSG needed to show that they can be as strong domestically as they were in the Champions League in midweek and they succeeded by inflicting a first — and heavy — defeat in Le Championnat upon Bordeaux.

Formation. Not for the first time this season, Unai Emery changed from the possession-based 4-3-3 system to a more attacking 4-2-3-1 shape and the result was another lethal display in front of goal, even though the team still managed to ship two goals.

Togetherness. Neymar scored one free kick and one penalty against Bordeaux and even though it is easier to get over a controversial moment when you are winning in the way that PSG were against Jocelyn Gourvennec’s men, the players — notably the Brazilian superstar and Cavani — looked happy enough together.

Negatives

Goals conceded. Although it was a very impressive performance in attack, Les Parisiens still contrived to allow Bordeaux to score twice through former youth academy graduate Younousse Sankhare and rising star Malcom.

Manager rating out of 10

8 — Emery’s decision to start the big three of Neymar, Mbappe and Cavani, as well as Draxler, was rewarded with a devastating attacking showing in the first half, enabling the Spaniard to make some rare early substitutions.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Alphonse Areola, 7 — The Frenchman and his defence were given little chance on Bordeaux’s first goal after Marco Verratti was turned in a dangerous position, but the youth academy graduate was still alert enough to make a flying second-half save with the score at 6-1.

DF Thomas Meunier, 6 — The Belgium international got forward and grabbed himself a goal, but received a booking late in the first half and conceded a late penalty in a mixed performance.

DF Marquinhos, 7 — The Brazilian did a very good job in central defence alongside Presnel Kimpembe and as captain for the day, but his backline still shipped two goals.

DF Presnel Kimpembe, 7 — The homegrown youngster paired well with Marquinhos but neither of them could save Verratti from embarrassment on Bordeaux’s first goal nor Meunier when he conceded the penalty for Les Girondins‘ second.

DF Yuri Berchiche, 6 — The Spaniard was solid enough at left-back and notched his maiden PSG assist by teeing up Meunier’s first-half strike — via Mbappe’s miscued swing.

There was a lot to smile about for Edinson Cavani, Thomas Meunier and Kylian Mbappe as PSG dominated Bordeaux.

MF Marco Verratti, 5 –– The Italy international got turned in the build-up to Bordeaux’s first goal and is still well below the high standards expected of him. It was a little surprising that Emery opted to replace Adrien Rabiot before the Azzurri star made way for Christopher Nkunku 11 minutes from time.

MF Adrien Rabiot, 6 — The France international was put in the shade by Draxler in the playmaker role, but he still put in a solid, if unspectacular, 69 minutes before he was replaced by Giovani Lo Celso.

MF Kylian Mbappe, 8 — The ex-Monaco man was exceptional in the midweek home win over Bayern Munich and he was very good against Bordeaux as well. Les Bleus’ latest star played a role in the buildup to Cavani’s goal (2-0) with a sublime flick before assisting Draxler’s volleyed finish and then getting in on the act himself in the second half.

MF Julian Draxler, 8 — The German put in his best display of the season so far in the No. 10 role and volleyed in his first goal this term before turning provider for Mbappe.

MF Neymar, 8 — The Brazilian was better against Bordeaux than he was against Bayern and opened the scoring with a phenomenal free kick before adding a second from the penalty spot before the break. After that, he broke out some tricks and flicks to keep the Parc des Princes crowd entertained.

ST Edinson Cavani, 6 — The Uruguay international scored PSG’s second goal and looked comfortable enough with Neymar, but it must have hurt El Matador to see the Brazilian score from the penalty spot, even if he did not show it.

Substitutes

RW Angel Di Maria, 5 — The Argentine replaced Cavani just after the hour mark but it was already 6-1 by then, so there was little left to do.

MF Giovani Lo Celso, 5 — Came on for Rabiot with 21 minutes to go but like his compatriot Di Maria, found that the damage had already been done.

MF Christopher Nkunku, NR –– The youth academy graduate was afforded the final 11 minutes of the match in place of Verratti.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.



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Paris Saint-Germain’s Thomas Meunier hails Neymar after big Bordeaux win


Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar were all on target again to inspire PSG’s 6-2 rout of Bordeaux.

Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier hailed Neymar’s impact in attack after the 6-2 victory over Bordeaux at Parc des Princes in Ligue 1 on Saturday.

Neymar opened the scoring and added a first-half penalty, while Edinson Cavani also struck before Meunier himself notched a goal, followed by Julian Draxler and Kylian Mbappe.

Speaking with Canal+ after the match, Meunier felt that the result was good but not quite perfect yet still praised Neymar’s influence.

“Obviously we still have exceptional players when we rotate,” the 26-year-old said. “Things are taking shape, I think. Up against a previously undefeated team, you cannot ask for more than scoring six goals.

“When Neymar gets the ball, we are confident in attack but we can still raise the bar. At 2-0, there was a little drop and if we had been a bit more disciplined, we could have been able to finish the match off sooner than we did and in a more beautiful fashion.

“We are not unplayable, we saw that in Montpellier — they stood up to us well. There will be teams who block us. If we can steer clear of injuries and the team continues to rotate well like this, things look promising in the Champions League and Ligue 1.”

PSG coach Unai Emery started Draxler as the No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 formation instead of the usual 4-3-3 and the Germany international felt that it was his best showing of the season so far after a wonderful first-half volley.

“It was my best match of the season so far, that is for sure,” Draxler told Canal+. “True, it has been difficult since the start of the season because I have not played well nor often. However, I have made progress and I am glad about this game.

“It is a pleasure to play with this team. This position suits me well — I feel good on the pitch. I scored a beautiful goal with my left foot, which is not usual for me.

“It is always hard being a substitute. I want to play in every match, like all the other players. I am happy in Paris. I like to play regularly and when it is like it was in this game, it was very good.”

Thomas Meunier celebrates with Neymar and Edinson Cavani during PSG’s victory over Bordeaux.

While Emery was pleased to take all three points to go as many clear of second-placed Monaco in Ligue 1 heading into the international break, he was still irritated that his players allowed Bordeaux to score twice.

“It is difficult to be absolutely perfect,” he told Canal+. “Bordeaux are a team with a good attack but they tried to control the match with a low defensive line.

“The opening goal was important. After that, we opened up spaces and at certain moments of the game, this was a good thing. It enabled us to show off our individual qualities and we were able to shine, especially in the first half.

“I am happy with the result and I am pleased by our performance but I do not want to be conceding two goals at home. We have different types of players. We worked with Julian today and he put in a good performance, it did him and the team some good. After him, Angel [Di Maria] came on because he needed to play to get back to full fitness.”

PSG will return to domestic action away at Dijon after the international break and have Anderlecht (twice), Marseille and Nice to come across Ligue 1 and the Champions League in October.

Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.



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Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa breaks Bundesliga’s Japanese goalscoring record



Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa is now the outright leading Japanese scorer in Bundesliga history thanks to his 38th strike against Augsburg.

Since joining BVB from Cerezo Osako in 2010, the Japan international has now notched up 38 goals in 132 Bundesliga appearances.

The 28-year-old moved level with previous record holder former Mainz and Stuttgart striker Shinji Okazaki on 37 with his strike in the 3-0 win over Hamburg on Matchday 5, but has now surpassed his international teammate after scoring with a delicate chip to put Dortmund 2-1 away to Augsburg on Matchday 7.

Watch: The pick of Kagawa’s 38 Bundesliga goals

Kagawa’s first Bundesliga goal came on Matchday 3 of the 2010/11 campaign when he struck in a 2-0 home win over Wolfsburg. He went on to find the net another 20 times in two seasons at BVB, becoming a firm fan favourite thanks to his tireless work ethic and eye-catching skill on the ball, before Joining Manchester United in July 2012.

After a largely unhappy spell in England, Kagawa returned to Dortmund in summer 2014. He has re-established himself in midfield with his customary composed displays and was recently rewarded with a contract extension valid until 2020.

Click here for more Dortmund news and features!



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Freiburg vs. Hoffenheim: Probable line-ups and stats



Freiburg are still chasing their first win of the Bundesliga season as they welcome high-flying Hoffenheim to the Schwarzwald-Stadion on Sunday afternoon (kick-off 13:30CEST/11:30GMT).

If Christian Streich sticks with his tried-and-tested 4-4-2, winger Yoric Ravet could slot into the attack after returning from suspension, while Lukas Kübler is a more defensive alternative to Pascal Stenzel at right-back. The Freiburg coach may also opt for a three- or five-man defence, with Julian Schuster in a central role.

Three days after a UEFA Europa League defeat to Ludogorets, Julian Nagelsmann will probably rotate his side, with Dennis Geiger and Pavel Kaderabek likely to be rested. The involvement of Benjamin Hübner, Serge Gnabry (both muscle complaints), Sandro Wagner (cold) and Nadiem Amiri (bruising to the foot) will be decided as late as possible.

Watch: Hoffenheim were in impressive form as they saw off Schalke on Matchday 6

Freiburg: Schwolow – Kübler, Lienhart, Söyüncü, Günter – Frantz, Höfler – Ravet, Terrazzino – Haberer – Niederlechner
Absentees: Gulde, Niedermeier (both back), Kempf, Sierro (both hamstring), Abrashi (ankle), Meffert (foot)
Coach: Christian Streich

Hoffenheim: Baumann – Nordtveit, Vogt, Hübner – Passlack, Zuber – Polanski – Rupp, Amiri – Wagner, Uth
Absentees: Bicakcic (cruciate ligament), Demirbay (muscle), Grillitsch (gastrointestinal problems), Szalai (adductor), Zulj (fitness)
Coach: Julian Nagelsmann

  • When the two Baden-Württemberg clubs last met in March, Hoffenheim were fourth and Freiburg eighth. Heading into this clash, Hoffenheim are flying high in second while Freiburg are 16th.
  • Freiburg are one of three Bundesliga teams still waiting for their first win of the season (along with Werder Bremen and Cologne). In 2013/14, they didn’t claim their first victory until Matchday 11 – but still survived.
  • Freiburg haven’t beaten Hoffenheim in their last seven meetings – in spite of taking the lead in six of them.
  • Eight of the 14 Bundesliga encounters between the sides have ended in a draw, including five of the last six.
  • Hoffenheim are unbeaten after six matchdays, although they have only played two away games so far.
  • Hoffenheim keeper Olivier Baumann came through the Freiburg youth ranks. He spent 14 years with SCF, winning the U19 Bundesliga title in 2007/08 and the U19 DFB Cup in 2008/09. After making 131 Bundesliga appearances for his boyhood club, he joined TSG in the summer of 2014.

Click here for the Freiburg-Hoffenheim Match Centre!



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Cologne vs. RB Leipzig: Probable line-ups and stats



Cologne are still chasing their first win of the Bundesliga season as last season’s runners-up, RB Leipzig, visit the RheinEnergieStadion on Sunday (kick-off: 18:00CEST/16:00GMT).

Cologne coach Peter Stöger is likely to shore up his defence against a Leipzig side who are notoriously rapid on the counter-attack, and may opt to start with a five-man backline. Having lost to Red Star Belgrade in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday night, the Billy Goats are likely to make a few changes – and could go with the same starting XI who picked up their first point of the season in Hannover last weekend.

Leipzig striker Timo Werner was substituted off early in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League defeat to Besiktas, but should have recovered in time to face Cologne. Ralph Hasenhüttl could rest captain Willi Orban and play Stefan Ilsanker at centre-back, while Naby Keita is serving the final game of his three-match suspension, and will likely be replaced by the returning Kevin Kampl in midfield.

Watch: Leipzig got back to winning ways against Eintracht Frankfurt on Matchday 6

Cologne: Horn – Sörensen, Maroh, Heintz – Klünter, Rausch – Özcan, Lehmann – Osako, Bittencourt – Cordoba
Absentees: Hector (ankle ligaments), Nartey (meniscus operation), Risse (knee operation), Rudnevs (nasal operation)
Coach: Peter Stöger

Leipzig: Gulacsi – Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano, Bernardo – Kampl, Demme – Sabitzer, Forsberg – Werner, Poulsen
Absentees: Keita (suspended)
Coach: Ralph Hasenhüttl

  • Cologne have conceded the most goals in the Bundesliga this season (13), but managed to keep a clean sheet against Hannover last week (0-0) as they earned their first point of the campaign.
  • Last season the Billy Goats held Leipzig to a 1-1 draw at the RheinEnergieStadion, but lost 3-1 at the Red Bull Arena in the reverse fixture.
  • Leipzig opened the scoring in the fifth minute of both of those games, through Oliver Burke (away) and Emil Forsberg (home). Yuya Osako grabbed both goals for Cologne.
  • Cologne’s Jhon Cordoba has yet to score in the Bundesliga this term in spite of 24 shots on goal.
  • Leipzig coach Hasenhüttl played as a forward for Cologne in the second division between 1998 and 2000, scoring only three goals in 41 appearances.
  • Hasenhüttl and Cologne boss Stöger were teammates at Austria Vienna in the early 1990s. They were Austrian champions in 1991, 1992 and 1993 and also played together in the national team.

Click here for the Cologne-Leipzig Match Centre!



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UEFA Europa League – Konyaspor-Salzburg – Konyaspor v Salzburg background



Having earned their first European win on matchday two, Konyaspor will look to keep the momentum going, though Group I visitors Salzburg are showing fine continental form.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and it is Konyaspor’s first encounter with Austrian opponents.

• Salzburg’s record in four games against Turkish teams is W1 D1 L2, both of those defeats coming in Turkey.

Form guide
• Konyaspor secured their first European win at the eighth attempt when they beat Vitória SC 2-1 on matchday two.

• Salzburg are unbeaten in seven UEFA Europa League matches (W5 D2).

• Winners of the 2016/17 Turkish Cup, Konyaspor made their European competition debut in last year’s UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Austrian champions, and 1994 UEFA Cup runners-up, Salzburg missed the cut in last year’s UEFA Europa League group stage, after succeeding in their previous three attempts.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Salzburg to Konya is just over 1,900km.

• Konyaspor defender Petar Filipovic has played in Austria with Ried (2015–16) and Austria Wien (2016–17).

• Salzburg’s Stefan Stangl turns 26 the day after the game.

• Salzburg need two more goals to reach 200 in UEFA club competition: this is their 163rd match in Europe.

• Salzburg won last season’s UEFA Youth League, beating Benfica in the final under Marco Rose – now in charge of the senior side.

• Along with FCSB, Salzburg are in a record seventh UEFA Europa League group stage. They are the only team to record a maximum 18 points twice (2009/10 and 2013/14).

• Misses next match if booked: Ali Turan (Konyaspor).

The coaches
• Konyaspor boss Mustafa Reşit Akçay is back in the group stage for a third time, having coached Trabzonspor and Osmanlıspor in past editions. A youth specialist, he notably went unbeaten in his first 19 games in UEFA competition (W15 D4).

• Previously youth-team boss, Marco Rose stepped up to the Salzburg helm after predecessor Óscar García left in June. A defender with home-town club Leipzig, Hannover and Mainz, he has been on Salzburg’s staff since 2013.



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UEFA Europa League – Vardar-Real Sociedad – Vardar v Real Sociedad background


Vardar have had some punishing results in Group L, but a late goal on matchday two has given them a small lift as they prepare to take on Real Sociedad.

Previous meetings
• The clubs are meeting for the first time; neither has faced a team from their opponent’s home country before.

• The only previous European tie between Macedonian and Spanish sides came in the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup; Celta Vigo beat Pelister 3-0 in Spain and 2-1 in the return leg in Bitola.


Highlights: Rosenborg 3-1 Vardar

Form guide
• Vardar have conceded eight goals in the first two matchdays – more than any other team in this season’s group stage.

• Vardar kicked off the group stage with a 5-0 loss to Zenit in Skopje, equalling the margin of their worst-ever UEFA home defeat.

• Real Sociedad have lost five of their last six European away games, including the 3-1 reversal at Zenit last time out (W1 L5).

• Domestic champions for a third season running in 2016/17, Vardar are the first club from FYR Macedonia to appear in the group stage of a major UEFA competition.

• Although Real Sociedad played in the UEFA Champions League group stage in 2003/04 and 2013/14, the San Sebastian outfit are making their debut at this phase of the UEFA Europa League.

Highlights: Zenit 3 - 1 Real Sociedad


Highlights: Zenit 3 – 1 Real Sociedad

Trivia and links
• The journey from San Sebastian to Skopje is around 1,900km.

• Real Sociedad conceded the fewest fouls in the first two matchdays: just 13.

• Vardar are the first Macedonian side to qualify for a major UEFA group stage; Juan Felipe’s brilliant lob at Rosenborg on matchday two was the first group stage goal for a club from FYR Macedonia.

The coaches
• Cedomir Janevski returned to coach Vardar in August 2017, having previously served the Skopje team as a defender from 1982–89. He spent many of the intervening years in Belgium, where he played for and coached Club Brugge among others.

• Real Sociedad boss since 2015, Eusebio Sacristán can complete a full set of major UEFA trophies this season, having won the European Cup and Cup Winners’ Cup as a midfielder with Barcelona. He was also Barcelona‘s assistant coach and B team boss.



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UEFA Europa League – Marseille-Vitória SC – Marseille v Vitória SC background


Marseille will look to bounce back from a matchday two UEFA Europa League Group I defeat as they welcome a Vitória SC side who have not won away in Europe since 2005.

Previous meetings
• The teams are meeting for the first time.

• Marseille’s ten games against Portuguese sides have produced the following results: W2 D2 L6 (W2 D1 L2 in Marseille).

• Vitória SC’s only past encounters with French opponents were a pair of 2013/14 UEFA Europa League group stage matches against Lyon – they drew 1-1 in France but lost 2-1 at home.


Highlights: Salzburg 1-0 Marseille

Form guide
• Marseille have won all three of their European home games this season.

• Vitória SC are without a win in 11 UEFA away matches (D4 L7) – a run stretching back to a 1-0 victory at Wisła Kraków in September 2005.

• Fifth in France last term, Marseille last featured in the UEFA Europa League group stage in 2015/16 when they made it to the round of 32, eventually losing to Athletic Club.

• Fourth in the Liga and runners-up in the Portuguese Cup last season, Vitória SC are participating in their third UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League group stage. They have yet to make it through.

Highlights: Konyaspor 2-1 Vitória SC


Highlights: Konyaspor 2-1 Vitória SC

Trivia and links
• The journey from Guimaraes to Marseille is around 1,150km.

• Vitória SC midfielder Alhassan Wakaso played in France last term with Lorient, figuring in a 4-1 home defeat by Marseille.

• Vitória SC’s Guillermo Celis and Apollon’s Anton Maglica were the most-fouled players on the first two matchdays, with ten infringements against each.

• Marseille’s Adil Rami won the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League with Sevilla.

The coaches
• Marseille coach since 2016, Rudi Garcia started out as a midfielder at Lille, returning to lead the club from 2008–13 and masterminding their domestic double triumph in 2010/11. He subsequently spent three seasons in charge at AS Roma.

• Vitória SC coach since summer 2016, Pedro Martins previously managed Marítimo (2012/13) and Rio Ave (2014/15) in this competition’s group stage. A former Guimarães midfielder, he was capped once during his time at Sporting CP (1995–98).



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UEFA Europa League – Zulte Waregem-Vitesse – Zulte Waregem v Vitesse background


There is not much to separate Zulte Waregem and Vitesse as they come together in UEFA Europa League Group K, both having had a tough start in the section.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time.

• Zulte Waregem have lost all three of their previous games against Dutch teams without scoring a single goal – including a pair of 3-0 home defeats, by Ajax in the 2006/07 UEFA Cup group stage and by PSV at the same phase of the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League.

• Vitesse won their only two past UEFA matches against Belgian sides without conceding: 1-0 home and away against Mechelen in the 1992/93 UEFA Cup second round.


Highlights: Lazio 2-0 Zulte Waregem

Form guide
• Both clubs lost their opening Group K games.

• The 5-1 reverse to Nice on matchday one was Zulte Waregem’s heaviest home defeat in UEFA competition. They are without a win in four UEFA matches (D1 L3).

• Vitesse have not won in their last seven European away games (D3 L4) – a run stretching back over 15 years to a 1-0 victory at Rapid Bucureşti in October 2002.

• Zulte Waregem claimed their second Belgian Cup in 2016/17; they made it through the UEFA Cup group stage in 2006/07, but could not emulate that success in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League.

• Fifth in the Netherlands last term, Arnhem-based Vitesse are featuring in the group stage of a UEFA competition for the first time having won the Dutch Cup, their maiden major trophy.

Highlights: Nice 3-0 Vitesse


Highlights: Nice 3-0 Vitesse

Trivia and links
• The journey from Arnhem to Waregem is around 200km, making this the shortest trip of any competitor on matchday three.

• Zulte Waregem midfielder Onur Kaya came through the youth ranks at Vitesse and was a first-team player from 2005–10.

• Vitesse defenders Alexander Büttner (2016) and Arnold Kruiswijk (2008–10) played in Belgium with Anderlecht.

• Zulte Waregem’s Timothy Derijck also has extensive Dutch experience (Feyenoord 2005–09, NAC Breda 2006, Den Haag 2009–11 and 2014–16, PSV Eindhoven 2011–14, Utrecht 2013–14).

The coaches
• Francky Dury’s second coming as Zulte Waregem coach began in 2012, and he led them to a second Belgian Cup success last season. Zultse and – post-merger – Zulte Waregem boss from 1994–2010, he occupied the Gent and Belgium Under-21 helms prior to his return.

• Vitesse coach since 2016, leading them to their historic Dutch Cup triumph last season, Surinam-born Henk Fraser was capped seven times by the Netherlands as a defender, spending the bulk of his playing career at Feyenoord, where he was later a youth coach. He took his first senior job at Den Haag from 2014–16.



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UEFA Europa League – Konyaspor-Salzburg – Konyaspor v Salzburg backrgound



Having earned their first European win on matchday two, Konyaspor will look to keep the momentum going, though Group I visitors Salzburg are showing fine continental form.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time and it is Konyaspor’s first encounter with Austrian opponents.

• Salzburg’s record in four games against Turkish teams is W1 D1 L2, both of those defeats coming in Turkey.

Form guide
• Konyaspor secured their first European win at the eighth attempt when they beat Vitória SC 2-1 on matchday two.

• Salzburg are unbeaten in seven UEFA Europa League matches (W5 D2).

• Winners of the 2016/17 Turkish Cup, Konyaspor made their European competition debut in last year’s UEFA Europa League group stage.

• Austrian champions, and 1994 UEFA Cup runners-up, Salzburg missed the cut in last year’s UEFA Europa League group stage, after succeeding in their previous three attempts.

Trivia and links
• The journey from Salzburg to Konya is just over 1,900km.

• Konyaspor defender Petar Filipovic has played in Austria with Ried (2015–16) and Austria Wien (2016–17).

• Salzburg’s Stefan Stangl turns 26 the day after the game.

• Salzburg need two more goals to reach 200 in UEFA club competition: this is their 163rd match in Europe.

• Salzburg won last season’s UEFA Youth League, beating Benfica in the final.

• Along with FCSB, Salzburg are in a record seventh UEFA Europa League group stage. They are the only team to record a maximum 18 points twice (2009/10 and 2013/14).

The coaches
• Konyaspor boss Mustafa Reşit Akçay is back in the group stage for a third time, having coached Trabzonspor and Osmanlıspor in past editions. A youth specialist, he notably went unbeaten in his first 19 games in UEFA competition (W15 D4).

• Previously youth-team boss, Marco Rose stepped up to the Salzburg helm after predecessor Óscar García left in June. A defender with home-town club Leipzig, Hannover and Mainz, he has been on Salzburg’s staff since 2013.



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UEFA Europa League – Zorya-Hertha – Zorya v Hertha background


A great UEFA Europa League Group J result on matchday two has given Zorya reason for confidence as they welcome a Hertha Berlin side who have yet to score in the section.

Previous meetings
• The teams are meeting for the first time; neither club has faced opponents from their rival’s home country before.

• The last four UEFA games held in Ukraine between clubs from these nations have ended in draws – a 2-2 and then three 0-0s, with Shakhtar the home side on all four occasions.


Highlights: Athletic 0-1 Zorya

Form guide
• Zorya are without a win in five European home fixtures (D2 L3), but claimed a shock 1-0 victory at Athletic Club on matchday two.

• Hertha have yet to score in two Group J matches, and have lost their last three European away games – only one of them this season.

• Third in the 2016/17 Ukrainian table, Zorya are featuring in their second successive group stage, though they were unable to make the UEFA Europa League round of 32 last term.

• Sixth in Germany last season, Hertha got through the UEFA Europa League group stage on their most recent appearance, in 2009/10, but were knocked out in last year’s third qualifying round.

Highlights: Östersund 1-0 Hertha


Highlights: Östersund 1-0 Hertha

Trivia and links
• The journey from Berlin to Lviv, where Zorya are playing their European home matches, is around 800km.

• Hertha’s Salomon Kalou was a 2011/12 UEFA Champions League winner with Chelsea.

The coaches
• Yuriy Vernydub has been in charge at Zorya since stepping up from his role as assistant coach in November 2011, leading them to fourth and third-placed finishes in the last two seasons. He was a Russian Cup winner as a Zenit defender in 1999.

• Pál Dárdai joined Hertha as a player in 1997 and made a club-record 366 league appearances for Die Alte Dame. He coached Hertha’s youth team – and Hungary’s senior side – for a time before taking the main Hertha helm in 2015.



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UEFA Europa League – Crvena zvezda-Arsenal – Crvena zvezda v Arsenal background


Crvena zvezda got the better of Arsenal before all of their current players were born, and will hope to do so again when the sides reconvene in UEFA Europa League Group H.

Previous meetings
• The teams met in the 1978/79 UEFA Cup third round, Branko Stanković’s Crvena zvezda winning 1-0 in Belgrade – Cvijetin Blagojević the scorer – and then making it through to the next round with a 1-1 draw with Terry Neill’s men at Highbury, Dušan Savić’s late effort cancelling out an Alan Sunderland goal.

The line-ups for the game in Belgrade on 22 November 1978 were:
Crvena zvezda: Stojanov, Jovanović, Jovin, Muslin, Keri, Jurišić, Petrović, Blagojević (Morosavljević 88), Savić, Šestić, Lukić (Šimić 71).
Arsenal: Jennings, Nelson, O’Leary, Rice, Walford, Young, Price, Stapleton, Heeley, Rix, Sunderland.

• Crvena zvezda’s record in 16 matches against English sides is W6 D5 L5.

• Apart from their encounter with Crvena zvezda, Arsenal’s only past meetings with Serbian opponents were a pair of 3-1 wins against Partizan in the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League group stage.


Highlights: Köln 0-1 Crvena zvezda

Form guide
• Crvena zvezda are unbeaten in five European home games this season (W4 D1).

Arsenal won both of their opening Group H matches; they have not lost (over 90 minutes) in seven UEFA Cup or UEFA Europa League games (W6 D1) since a 2-1 reverse at Deportivo La Coruña in March 2000.

• Second in Serbia last term, and UEFA Cup runners-up in 1978/79, Crvena zvezda last reached the group stage in 2007/08 (losing all four matches).

• Arsenal are making their UEFA Europa League group stage debut; their last campaign in this competition was the 1999/2000 UEFA Cup, in which they lost on penalties to Galatasaray in the final.

Highlights: BATE 2-4 Arsenal


Highlights: BATE 2-4 Arsenal

Trivia and links
• The journey from London to Belgrade is around 1,700km.

• Crvena zvezda are one of three teams to have made it all the way from the first qualifying round to the group stage this season, along with Skënderbeu and Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

• Crvena zvezda’s Richmond Boakye was the seven-goal joint-top scorer in UEFA Europa League qualifying this summer – level with Trakai’s Maksim Maksimov.

• Crvena zvezda youngster Luka Ilić is on loan from Arsenal’s Premier League rivals Manchester City.

• Arsène Wenger celebrates his 68th birthday on the Sunday after this game, 22 October.

The coaches
• Vladan Milojević returned to Crvena zvezda in June 2017, having played for the club in 1996. He spent much of his playing career in Greece with Panathinaikos and Iraklis, and headed back there as coach of Panionios from 2016–17.

• Arsène Wenger has been Arsenal boss since 1996, leading the Gunners to three English titles, seven FA Cups and the 2006 UEFA Champions League final. An unremarkable player, he made his name as a coach with Nancy and Monaco in his native France.



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UEFA Europa League – Lugano-Plzeň – Lugano v Plzeň background


Lugano will look to avoid another 2-1 defeat in UEFA Europa League Group G against a Plzeň team who have not won on the road in Europe for some time.

Previous meetings
• The sides are meeting for the first time, and it is Plzeň’s maiden encounter with Swiss opposition.

• Lugano faced another Czech club, Slavia Praha, in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup second round; František Cipro’s Slavia beat Roberto Morinini’s team 2-1 in Lugano and then 1-0 in Prague.


Highlights: Lugano 1-2 FCSB

Form guide
• Lugano have lost both of their Group G games by the same 2-1 scoreline.

• Plzeň are without a win in 11 European away matches (D5 L6)

• Third in Switzerland last term, Lugano – from the Italian-speaking Ticino canton – have been absent from UEFA competition since 2002/03 and have never before featured in a group stage.

• Runners-up in last term’s Czech First League, Viktoria Plzeň are contesting the UEFA Europa League group stage for a third straight season. They reached the last 16 in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Highlights: Plzeň 3-1 H. Beer-Sheva


Highlights: Plzeň 3-1 H. Beer-Sheva

Trivia and links
• The journey from Plzen to Lugano is a little over 500km.

• Plzeň’s Martin Zeman played in Switzerland with Sion (2015–16).

The coaches
• Pierluigi Tami took charge of Lugano for a second time in June 2017, the Italian-born defender having spent his entire professional career in Switzerland. Notably, he assisted Ottmar Hitzfeld during his spell as national coach.

• After stints as Czech Republic and Anji coach, Pavel Vrba rejoined Plzeň this year, having earlier steered Viktoria to two championships between 2008 and 2013. Once a Baník Ostrava player and coach, he lifted the 2006/07 Slovak title as Žilina boss.



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