Nurnberg vs Bayern Munich: Niko Kovac’s Best Available FCB Lineup

?Bayern Munich play Nurnberg in the Bundesliga this Sunday as they edge towards a seventh successive title.

Niko Kovac’s recruits marched to their fifth victory in a row on Wednesday night, overcoming Werder Bremen in a 3-2 DFB Pokal semi final triumph. That result followed up a 1-0 league win over the same opponents that keeps Bayern a single point ahead of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table going into the weekend.

Nurnberg are winless in their last three fixtures, going down 2-0 away to Bayer Leverkusen last week as their impending relegation creeps closer.

Here’s the side Kovac could field for the match at Max-Morlock-Stadion.


Goalkeeper & Defenders

Niklas Suele,Kingsley Coman

Sven Ulreich (GK) – Manuel Neuer’s calf injury has opened the door for his understudy to stake a claim for the number one jersey. That would have seemed a ludicrous notion a year ago, but Neuer’s indifferent form this campaign could see him ousted by Kovac, with Ulreich a potential replacement between the sticks.

Joshua Kimmich (RB) – Few full backs in world football have such exquisite technique when striking the ball as Kimmich. He is a weapon from out wide, with ?Bayern’s frontmen regularly benefiting from his superb crossing abilities.

Mats Hummels (CB) –€35m switch from ?Dortmund in 2016 has ultimately seemed like better business for the men in yellow than their Bavarian rivals. Hummels’ performances at the Allianz Arena have been far from poor, yet he has never quite been the unrivalled pillar of strength that he was before the move.

Niklas Sule (CB) – The 23-year-old proved decisive in Die Roten’s last ?Bundesliga fixture, watching his effort deflect in against Werder as the match entered its closing stages. That score may be pivotal in deciding the destination of the title.

David Alaba (LB) – Like his counterpart on the right flank, Alaba is a highly skilful defender who is more than capable of operating in a midfield role. He is one of a handful of players who have been around since the club won the first of their six consecutive titles to date.


Midfielders

Thomas Müller,Kevin Möhwald

Javi Martinez (CM) – The Spain international was hampered by injuries during his early career in Bavaria, but is now fully fit and firing. Martinez has become a rock in the heart of this powerful Bayern unit.

Thiago Alcantara (CM) – Imagination, invention and ingenuity; Thiago is the creative artist controlling the flow of Kovac’s team. The former ?Barcelona midfielder has developed into a masterful maestro since moving to the Bundesliga.

Thomas Muller (CAM) – The German doubled his side’s lead during the cup match away to Werder on Wednesday, slotting home despite being off-balance. That was just his ninth goal in all competitions, though a tally of 14 assists demonstrates the importance of the playmaking role he has been given.


Forwards

FBL-GER-CUP-BREMEN-BAYERN MUNICH

Serge Gnabry (RW) – ?Arsenal’s loss was the Bundesliga’s gain, Gnabry flourishing since returning to his homeland. He has scored on 12 occasions this season and Nurnberg will have to be wary to stop him adding to that, given the wideman’s electric form of late.

Robert Lewandowski (ST) – The Pole hit a quick-fire double during the 3-0 victory over Nurnberg earlier in the campaign. That reflects his strong goalscoring form across the season, Lewandowski now having racked up 37 after his latest brace in midweek.

Kingsley Coman (LW) – Franck Ribery notched in the reverse fixture back in December, but at 36 his body is failing him. Coman is the heir to his throne, taking over from his fellow Frenchman as the team’s lightning-fast attacking outlet down the left wing.

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Spurs Must Reinvigorate Themselves Ahead of Ajax Clash After Toothless West Ham Display

?If you’ve watched Spurs over the course of this season, performances and results like Saturday’s are not a huge shock. 

They’ve got these days in them. It was one of those games where the longer it went on, the less it looked like Spurs would break West Ham down. Not because of a lack of quality and not because West Ham were defending like Trojans, or even like Brighton.  

In fact, ?West Ham played with a dangerously high line and were very open. 

Christian Eriksen

The reason you felt the game might get away from ?Spurs is because of the pace of it. Everything was slow, at times lethargic, at times leggy, at times wasteful. 

Where teams like Man City, Liverpool and (on occasion) Chelsea are good is that when you see opponents make the game slow and heavy, they have players that suddenly can spark into life. They move from second gear to fourth gear in an instant and make something happen.

Spurs may have Lucas Moura, Son Heung-min, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen, but these players have only dipped their toes into the pool of creative genius – rather than taking a running bomb into the deep end.

The other problem is, Spurs are prone to the occasional error at the back as well. And a mix up between Davinson Sanchez and Toby Alderweireld, as well as some beautiful vision from Marko Arnautovic, left Michail Antonio a yard of space to chest the ball down and smash it past Hugo Lloris. 

At this point, it is definitely worth mentioning that it was a stunning finish and a brilliantly worked goal. At this point, it is also worth mentioning that Spurs should have been in a position where they were out of sight and ready to start shutting the game down.

As the match petered out credit has to go to West Ham for their doggedness with 20 minutes to play, but in truth Spurs looked out of ideas. They looked out of creative energy and more than anything they looked drained.

All was set for a Vincent Janssen last minute equaliser but a fantastic clearance off the line from Fabian Balbuena made sure West Ham snuck over the line and got the win.

FBL-ENG-PR-TOTTENHAM-WEST HAM

This wasn’t a case of ‘there’s half an eye on the ?Champions League’, this was a case of it being a very cagey London derby and Spurs just not being at it having played for the seventh time in April.

It’s a killer for Spurs that the first goal scored by an opponent at the new stadium comes in this fashion, it’s even tougher that it brings a first home defeat in a week when they really didn’t need to be losing momentum. 

All eyes now switch to whether, come Wednesday, they can summon up their Man City Champions League quarter final spirit, rather than the slightly limp variation on display today.

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Mauricio Pochettino Claims Ajax Have Unfair Champions League Advantage as Eredivisie Postpone Games

?Mauricio Pochettino has claimed his Tottenham side are at a disadvantage in the upcoming Champions League semi-final, after the Dutch football association postponed all Eredivisie fixtures this weekend to allow Ajax a rest ahead of the tie.

If Ajax overcome Tottenham, it will be the first time a Dutch side has reached the Champions League final since 1996. As such, Dutch league officials believe Ajax success would be excellent for their domestic competition and are willing to do their part in assisting Erik ten Hag’s side.

Matthijs de Ligt,Daley Blind,David Neres,Lasse Schone

Ajax finished runners-up to PSV Eindhoven in the Eredivisie last season and only goal difference separates the two sides in first and second, with just two games left. With the title on the line, the Dutch FA (KNVB) moved to postpone not just Ajax’s fixture but an entire weekend of fixtures ahead of the Dutch side travelling to London.

Pochettino spoke up on the matter this week in his press conference ahead of the ?West Ham game admitting the decision is unfair on his side. ?Tottenham’s game has been moved to an early kick-off by the ?Premier League, but the Argentine is still unhappy his side will have to play an extra game.

“The reality is they are going to have more time to prepare and avoid risk. When you play Saturday and then Tuesday, the concentration and effort is massive. They are going to avoid risks that we take,” Pochettino said via the ?Daily Mail.

Mauricio Pochettino

“It’s not a complaint. Only that it is not fair. I don’t want to create a polemic, only that playing a Champions League semi-final, both teams must have the same time to prepare.”

Tottenham still have plenty to play for in the league themselves with their top-four place still not assured. A run of five straight away league defeats has seen Spurs position come under threat, while Saturday’s home loss to West Ham marked a first in the new stadium.

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Party Poopers West Ham Deserved to Beat Tottenham & the Credit Must Go to Manuel Pellegrini

?A brisk, cold afternoon at Tottenham Hotspur’s new stadium.

A warmth and buzz around the place on the way to the ground, with the home faithful delighted to be marching towards their glorious new home. So many things going well right now. Champions League semi-finalists, pretty much dead certs for a top four finish and Mauricio Pochettino still the man at the helm.

What could possibly go wrong after four consecutive wins at home in all competitions, scoring eight goals and conceding none?

I’ll tell you what. West Ham. Wonderful, wonderful ?West Ham.

Michail Antonio

The perennial party poopers who love a good day out in north London.

Let’s not forget, we were the last team to win at Highbury back in 2006, courtesy of a 3-2 win. Fast forward almost a year and we were at it again, stunning the Emirates Stadium into silence with a cheeky 1-0.

So it was time to create some more beautiful history. Time to go to ?Tottenham’s brand spanking new ground and play them off the park with some wonderfully attractive, counter-attacking football.

Okay, it wasn’t quite that today. But it was an open game that, quite frankly, we were well worthy of winning in the end.

Admittedly, the sight of an absurdly high line caused unnecessary early panic in my heart, but it showed Manuel Pellegrini’s intent. We were not going to be afraid to leave numbers forward, and would be happy to allow Spurs to come onto us in the first half. We knew they would have most of the possession, but that was okay – we thought we could soak it up and hit them on the break.

Admittedly, Spurs wasted chances – Son Heung-min was denied by Lukasz Fabianski and Christian Eriksen decided to wind the clock forward to December, gifting us a left off when he inexplicably failed to square the ball to Dele Alli six yards out.

But things changed after half-time. We had a spring in our step and the intensity was upped. Marko Arnautovic, who was anonymous in the first half, was suddenly seeing more of the ball and both Michail Antonio and Felipe Anderson were dangerous on the flanks.

It was a masterclass from Pellegrini, that demonstrated that he will never abandon his footballing principles. We were expected to lose today, so why not go out and have a go ourselves? Truth be told, that surprised Spurs a bit. Our willingness to pile forward caught them out and our goal was more than deserved after beginning the second half in such positive fashion.

Only Jose Mourinho (5) has beaten Pochettino more often in the Premier League than Pellegrini (4).  

Arnautovic, who gradually improved as the game went on, clipped a splendid ball into Antonio and he did the rest. Spurs’ new home? Silent. Apart from a pocket of wonderful supporters going absolutely mental to my left. Oh how I wanted to be in there with them.

From then on, I feared the worst – a usual West Ham collapse. Rolling over and allowing our bellies to be tickled until we could no longer soak up the pressure. But it didn’t happen. We didn’t back down and cower into our shell, instead driving forward to try and double the lead.

We could, and perhaps should, have wrapped it up with another. We didn’t, but that’s okay – because we’re the history boys who have only gone and done it again.

Declan Rice

North London, we love you and we can’t wait to come back and spoil your days again.

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Liverpool vs Huddersfield Stat Highlights Growing Disparity in Premier League

?Liverpool’s emphatic 5-0 victory of Huddersfield Town on Friday served as the latest reminder of the ever-expanding disparity between the top and bottom of the Premier League.

A Naby Keita goal after just 15 seconds and braces for Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane sealed the win for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who returned to the summit of the Premier League at Manchester City’s expense.


It was a result that reinforced the notion of the chasm between sides at either end of the table, as ?Liverpool moved onto 91 points, while ?Huddersfield remain rooted to the foot of the table with just 14 points.

As reported by ?BBC Sport, the 77-point difference between the Reds and the Terriers is the biggest gap between a side top of the ?Premier League to a club bottom of the table since its creation in 1992.

The gap could in fact increase to 78 points should ?City beat Burnley this weekend, which would see them return to the top of the Premier League, as the division’s two outstanding teams refuse to give an inch in one of the most memorable title races in recent memory.

There are notable gaps everywhere you look in the Premier League table, with their being a 19-point gap between City in second and Tottenham in third prior to their game against West Ham, while the gap between the rest of the ‘big six’ – Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United – to Wolves in seventh is 13 points.

Virgil van Dijk,Sergio Aguero

It’s been an incredible season that could see Liverpool finish on 97 points and not win the title, as City will be on 98 points should they win their remaining games, highlighting the standards set by those at the top as to what it now takes to challenge for the title.

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