Bayern beat Dortmund to close in on Bundesliga title

Bayern Munich have stretched their lead over rivals Borussia Dortmund to seven points at the top of the German Bundesliga table following a 1-0 win in front of an empty Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday evening.

Joshua Kimmich scored the game’s only goal shortly before half-time with a cheeky lob over Roman Bürki. The goalkeeper may feel he should have done better with the effort that caught him out.

Borussia Dortmund saw the majority of possession and territory but failed to create any clear-cut chances during the 90 minutes.

The visitors, with David Alaba and Jérôme Boateng in the middle of a back four, defended vigilantly as Lucien Favre’s side were restricted to long-range efforts.

Prior to game much of the talk had been on the prolific strikers of each club – Robert Lewandowski and Erling Håland. The Norwegian was the only one of them to produce a single effort on target as they both had a very quiet game.

The teenager limped off in the final 20 minutes as Dortmund finished with Thorgan Hazard playing up front.

Jadon Sancho was introduced at half-time, his third successive appearance from the bench since the 2019-20 Bundesliga season restarted 10 days ago. The England international, linked with a big money move to Manchester United, failed to produce anything of note in 45 minutes.

With six games left to go of the season for the league leaders, Bayern Munich are as good as champions having won 13 of their last 14 Bundesliga matches (D1). This would extend their national record to eight consecutive seasons as champions.

Borussia Dortmund need to avoid too many slip ups between now and the end of the season in late June in order to make sure they qualify for UEFA Champions League football next season.

Lucien Favre’s side are in a battle with Bayer 04 Leverkusen, RB Leipzig and Borussia Mönchengladbach for the three remaining places, with five points separating them and with Dortmund having played a game more.

Spurs-Man Utd could restart 2019-20 Premier League season

The 2019-20 Premier League season could restart on a Friday night in June with Tottenham Hotspur hosting Manchester United, according to ESPN.

Stage One of Project Restart commenced last week when clubs and officials agreed to start small group training prior to a vote taking place this Wednesday to intensify the training to include contact.

12 June had originally been penciled in for a return date for the season but that is looking more and more unlikely now, with either of the following Friday’s looking more realistic as the earliest possible opportunity.

The 20 Premier League clubs are concerned that a lack of contact training won’t get them into shape in time for a competitive restart in three weeks.

Germany’s Bundesliga returned last weekend after clubs were back in training for five weeks, though teams in the games I watched were far short of their best.

ESPN‘s report claims that the 20 Premier League clubs are “expected to push for a Friday date later in the month to restart the season” when they meet via video conference later this week. Manchester City versus Arsenal is another game that will take place in the first weekend that the league resumes.

Meetings between players and managers will take place prior to the next Premier League meeting on Wednesday.

The UK Government have published guidelines for contact training, anticipating that clubs will gradually build up their levels of contact as they aim to get back to full team training in the coming weeks.

Each club will continue to test twice a week.

Liverpool target nets hat-trick

Liverpool were the second-highest scoring team in the 2019-20 Premier League prior to the suspension on 13 March.

Jürgen Klopp’s side had netted 66 goals in their 29 matches, only two less than Manchester City.

Their front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané is one of the most-feared in world football on their day.

However, this has not stopped the league leaders from being linked to further attacking options. Yesterday, I reported on Kai Havertz’s brace for Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Bundesliga, with the 20-year-old being linked with a move to Anfield this summer.

Today, another reported Liverpool target went one better as Timo Werner netted a hat-trick in RB Leipzig’s 5-0 thumping win away to Mainz 05.

It is actually his second hat-trick against the club this season, having scored three and assisted three more than Julian Nagelsmann’s side hammered the relegation battlers 8-0 back in November.

With all eyes on the Bundesliga over the past two weekends, as the only major football league currently in action worldwide, Werner may have grabbed the attention of several more teams this weekend.

Unfortunately for the Saxony-based club, it wouldn’t have increased the striker’s value, as he has a €55 million (£50m) buy-out clause in his contract, according to several sources.

The 24-year-old has been highly-rated for some time and it looks as though a move away from the Red Bull Arena is on the cards this summer. After helping fire his side into this season’s Champions League for the first time in the club’s career, he has proven it wasn’t a one season wonder with another outstanding campaign to date.

Werner already has 29 caps for the German national team too, scoring 11 goals. Given today’s market, at least before the COVID-19 outbreak, a £50 million price tag for a player of his talent seems a bargain.

Whether he ends up at Liverpool, another Premier League club, or whoever, you can expect Timo Werner to score plenty wherever he ends up. It’s actually surprising that we’ve gone nearly a year without him being linked with Bayern Munich, as they tend to sign all the best players in Germany, and with Robert Lewandowski set to turn 32 in August.

2 more Premier League people test positive for coronavirus

Two new Premier League players and/or staff have tested positive for coronavirus on Saturday, the league have announced.

These positive cases come from two separate clubs out of 996 tests. The 20 Premier League clubs have now conducted 1,744 tests across two rounds, with eight positive cases returned in total.

The Premier League did not name the club nor individuals who tested positive, but Bournemouth have since confirmed one of their players tested positive.

Both individuals will now self-isolate for seven days as part of the protocol.

The Cherries’ statement on the club’s official website confirmed:

“Medical confidentiality means the player’s name will not be disclosed, and the club asks for this to be respected.

“In line with Premier League protocols regarding positive tests, he will self-isolate for a period of seven days before being tested again at a later date.

“Following strict adherence of the Premier League’s return to training regulations, the club’s training ground remains a safe working environment for players and backroom staff, who will continue to be tested for Covid-19 twice per week.”

All 20 Premier League clubs have now conducted two rounds of coronavirus testing, with a third set to take place on Monday and Tuesday this week. Then there will be a video conference with the clubs and league officials to vote on whether they are ready to start contact training.

Clubs returned to small group training earlier this week, with rules stipulating that they will be non-contact with groups of up to five maximum and lasting for no more than 75 minutes.

Of the six Premier League people to test positive last week, Watford’s Adrian Mariappa and Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan were confirmed as two of the cases.

In all, the low number of positive cases is a good sign for the Premier League to get ‘Project Restart’ closer to competitive matches.

Germany’s top two divisions have been in action for back-to-back weekends following the restart of professional football after five weeks of training.

The Premier League’s aim is to get the season completed this summer and it looks as though a restart could take place from mid-to-late June.

Liverpool & Man Utd target scores 2 more on Saturday

Whilst Liverpool and Manchester United returned to training this week as stage one of Project Restart to get the 2019-20 Premier League campaign completed this summer, the German Bundesliga is currently in the second weekend of their resumed season.

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund look set to compete for the title as they have won both games upon the league’s return, whilst Bayer 04 Leverkusen have done their hopes of finishing in the top four a world of good by taking a maximum of six points too.

The North Rhine-Westphalia club were comfortable 4-1 winners away to struggling Werder Bremen last weekend, in a game that Kai Havertz scored a brace.

Havertz added two more to his season tally again this Saturday, scoring either side of Marcus Thuram’s equaliser in a 3-1 win away to fellow top four hopefuls Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Victory has moved Leverkusen into third place ahead of RB Leipzig’s trip to Mainz 05 on Sunday.

Kai Havertz has been on fire since the turn of the year and none more impressive than these two outings since the league’s resumption.

The 20-year-old has shown his quality in attack with four goals in these two games, taking his tally to 10 on the season, on top of his five assists, in 24 Bundesliga games.

Havertz has played in the centre of a front three these past two games, having also played in the number 10 role and on the right wing earlier this season in Roger Schmidt’s side.

The German international continues to be linked with a move to Premier League giants Liverpool and Manchester United, as many expect the highly-rated attacker to depart the Bayer Arena this summer.

Liverpool already have a talented attacking trio with backup from the likes of Divock Origi, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on top of this. However, as the Premier League leaders and holders of the Champions League, as well as having a German manager in charge, one would have to expect the Reds to be favourites to sign him, if they want him.

Manchester United have never been afraid to throw their money around, whilst Ole Gunnar Solskjær has predominately looked at bringing in young players to the club. The Red Devils can be expected to sign a right forward this summer and are strongly linked with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho too.

Kai Havertz is certainly raising his transfer value this month and don’t be surprised if he leaves Bayer Leverkusen next month too. Whether he ends up at Liverpool or Manchester United, we shall have to wait and see.