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Analysis: Desperate Bayern struggling to meet Paris on eye level

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BERLIN, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) — Time seems to be running out for struggling Bayern Munich to get in shape ahead of their delicate UEFA Champions League duel against Paris Saint-Germain.

With only two weeks to go, the Bavarians’ club leaders and coach Julian Nagelsmann are avoiding the word crisis, but concerns are growing that the reigning German champions will fail to go toe-to-toe with the French giants.

While Nagelsmann is talking about a need to gain confidence, chairman Oliver Kahn has spoken of a post-World Cup trauma.

“I see two teams, the one we had in advance of the World Cup and the one we have after the tournament,” the 53-year-old stated after his side drew their last three matches, against RB Leipzig, Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern lost their pre-World Cup flow and delivered their worst restart after a winter break since 2007. Three disappointing draws last hit the club in 1978.

Their lead in the Bundesliga disappearing to only one point ahead of Union Berlin might be one thing, as “there is not much time to turn things to better” as Nagelsmann said.

The Bayern coach revealed a speed problem up front, in addition to turbulence in defense.

“We don’t get our power onto the pitch,” Kahn said, adding that what makes Nagelsmann concerned is “that you have to be successful in the so-called little games to do the really big ones right.”

Some indefinite burden seems to rest on the shoulders of Bayern’s attackers, as Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, Jamal Musiala, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting seem stuck in a creative crisis.

Not to speak of Thomas Muller, who seemed to have lost his place in the starting eleven, but returned this weekend without having the desired effect.

The German Cup duel against Mainz this Wednesday turns into a trendsetting issue from the perspective of Kahn and Muller.

While Kahn spoke about the right game at the right time as a “do-or-die” contest, Muller demanded to turn on the “anger machine.”

The team and coach are highly annoyed, the striker added.

After several cases of indiscipline, Kahn said the club is demanding performance “as players enjoyed enough vacation to recover from the World Cup.”

Kahn admitted to being disturbed “as we don’t nearly create as many chances as we did in the first half of the season when facing a period of poor results.”

The Bayern boss said the crisis of the German national team might have affected Bayern.

Reports speak of Nagelsmann coming under pressure to find solutions shortly to secure his future as head coach.

The duel against Paris Saint-Germain might deliver the first answer, aside from getting back on track in national competitions.

The 35-year-old said he is optimistic as “we know what is going wrong”, while admitting that “We need a can-opening experience to rediscover our confidence and power.”

Source(s): Xinhua

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Costa Rica holds Brazil in Copa America opener

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LOS ANGELES, June 24 (Xinhua) — Five-time World Cup winner Brazil was held to a goalless draw by Costa Rica in its opening Copa America Group D match here on Monday.

Marquinhos appeared to hand Brazil the lead in the 29th minute at SoFi Stadium when he tapped in at the far post after Raphinha’s free-kick from the left wing.

But the goal was overturned after a review by the video assistant referee found the Paris Saint-Germain defender was in an offside position.

Brazil dominated possession but was unable to break down a Costa Rica defense that often included 11 players behind the ball.

Lucas Paqueta went closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half when his long-range effort rebounded off the right post. Bruno Guimaraes and substitute Savinho were also left to rue missed chances in the final minutes.

“They sat back and it was very hard to find space, especially on such a small pitch,” Marquinhos said after the match.

“We did our best to win but we weren’t good enough. We have to be sincere with ourselves and look at what we can do better in our next game.”

Earlier, Daniel Munoz and Jefferson Lerma scored two first-half goals as Colombia clinched a 2-1 victory over Paraguay at NRG Stadium in Houston.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Euro 2024: Italy stuns Croatia, Spain advances with perfect record

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BERLIN, June 24 (Xinhua) — Mattias Zaccagni’s last-grasp 1-1 equalizer against Croatia sent reigning champion Italy through the Euro 2024 group stage while Spain capped a perfect Group B run with 1-0 win over Albania in the last round of group play on Monday.

Croatia started offensively minded knowing that only a win would see it progress into the round of the last 16.

Luka Sucic created the first clearcut chance with five minutes gone after unleashing a hammer from 20 meters, forcing Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma to tip the ball around the post.

Italy needed some time to gain a foothold and came close in the 20th minute when Mateo Retegui headed Ricaardo Calafiori’s cross goalwards.

Luciano Spalletti’s men should have taken the lead before halftime but neither Alessandro Bastoni nor Lorenzo Pellegrini was able to overcome Croatia custodian Dominik Livakovic, who was equal to both promising efforts.

After the restart, Croatia grabbed the lead as Donnarumma initially defused Luka Modric’s penalty attempt, but the Squadra Azzurra couldn’t clear the ball from the area, allowing Modric to tap home another parry from Donnaruma from very close range.

Italy started an onslaught on Croatia’s goal area as Spalletti’s men needed a share of spoils to book their berth for the next round.

Bastoni came close with a header, but Croatia well positioned defence was able to keep Italy at bay. It looked like Croatia would go through with a narrow win, but Calafiori initiated a last attack before teeing up for Zaccagni, who curled the ball from the edge of the box into the top right corner to flabbergast Croatia.

In the other Group B encounter, front runner Spain extended its winning run to three games after eliminating Albania 1-0 with the sole goal from Ferran Torres.

With the results, Spain rounded off a perfect group stage with 9 points followed by Italy (4 points), Croatia (2 points) and Alabania (1 point).

The top two of each of the six groups and the best four third finishers will enter the round-of-16 knockout stage.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Copa America: Pulisic helps U.S. breeze past Bolivia

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ARLINGTON, United States, June 23 (Xinhua) — Christian Pulisic scored one goal and set up another as the United States began their Copa America campaign with a 2-0 victory over Bolivia here on Sunday.

Pulisic put his side ahead in the third minute at AT&T stadium when he played a one-two with Tim Weah from a corner before curling a shot into the far corner while running away from goal.

The 25-year-old AC Milan attacker then set up Folarin Balogun to drive home a low finish just before halftime.

The tournament hosts were in cruise control in the second half and were rarely threatened by their South American rivals, who had just three shots on target for the match.

“We came out flying with a lot of intensity,” Pulisic said after the match. “Obviously an early goal helped us a lot, but all around it was a pretty dominant performance.

“We could have scored a few more to put it away, but all in all it was a really good start to the tournament. We should build some confidence from this; the games are going to get harder from here so we’ve got to be ready.”

The United States will play Panama in Atlanta in their next match on Thursday while Bolivia will meet Uruguay in New Jersey the same day.

Source(s): Xinhua

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