I’ll be watching Arsenal: Thomas Tuchel to avoid Bayer Leverkusen’s title push

By Sports Desk April 12, 2024

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said he will avoid Bayer Leverkusen securing the Bundesliga title on Sunday by watching Arsenal’s Premier League match against Aston Villa instead.

Xabi Alonso’s Leverkusen are on the brink of being crowned champions and host Werder Bremen on Sunday.

Even if Bayern beat Cologne at the Allianz Arena a day earlier, Leverkusen – 16 points clear with just six matches remaining – will take their first title by seeing off Bremen.

However, Tuchel, whose side host Cologne fresh from a pulsating 2-2 Champions League draw at Arsenal on Tuesday night, will have his attention elsewhere.

“I won’t be watching the Leverkusen game on Sunday,” he said. “I’ll watch Arsenal.”

The Champions League is the only trophy still up for grabs for the German giants following a disappointing domestic campaign.

And ahead of the quarter-final return leg in Munich on Wednesday, Tuchel has hinted he will rotate his side for the visit of Cologne.

“We’ve got several days between Cologne and Arsenal, but there’s the consideration to throw in some other players and make some changes,” said the former Chelsea manager, who is leaving Munich at the end of the season.

“If we make changes, then it’s more to give players some match rhythm for Wednesday and not to rest anybody.”

Leroy Sane is among those unlikely to feature on Saturday.

The former Manchester City winger impressed for Bayern at the Emirates on Tuesday night before he was substituted in the second half.

“It’s about how much pain he can tolerate,” added Tuchel of Sane.

“We geared everything towards him being able to play for Arsenal. He was an important factor there and played a great game.

“Since he showed a reaction, we’re focusing on him on Wednesday. The plan is for him to return on Sunday or Monday. But if he plays, he’ll show a reaction in his pubic bone again, which will remain the case for the time being.

“It’s clear what assets and talent the boy has. But we’ve been waiting for him to score a competitive goal since October. He got off to an outstanding start to the season, but he’s slowed down a bit.

“The expectations before the Arsenal first leg were huge and he delivered. We expect him to keep pushing himself, then he’ll be a key player for us.”

Tuchel will watch Saturday’s match from the stands after he was shown a fourth yellow card of the season in last weekend’s shock defeat to Heidenheim.

Cologne are four points from safety and Bayern are unbeaten in their last 19 meetings against their opponents on Saturday.

Related items

  • Olympiacos hero El Kaabi matches Messi feat in Europa Conference League success Olympiacos hero El Kaabi matches Messi feat in Europa Conference League success

    Ayoub El Kaabi will be the toast of Piraeus after his match-winning heroics secured Olympiakos' first-ever European trophy following their Europa Conference League success on Wednesday.

    The Olympiacos striker delivered the fatal blow against Fiorentina, bundling home with four minutes remaining of extra time to snatch a 1-0 victory at the AEK Arena.

    El Kaabi is the first player to score 11 goals in a single knockout stage campaign in major European competition since the introduction of group stages.

    Radamel Falcao, Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema all only ever managed 10 such goals in one campaign of UEFA competitions, and El Kaabi moves next to greatness in another aspect, too.

    The Moroccan forward is the first non-European player to score 14 goals in major European competition in a single season, since Lionel Messi in 2011-12 (also 14).

    Olympiakos have their star striker to thank after becoming the first-ever Greek side to lift a trophy in major European competition, while Fiorentina will be wounded by another failure in this tournament.

    Having lost to West Ham in last season's Conference League final, Fiorentina have now lost five of their last six finals in Europe, their only success coming against Rangers in the 1961 Cup Winners' Cup.

    Defeat also ended La Viola's longest unbeaten run in Europe in their history, halting a 13-match undefeated streak in abrupt fashion.

  • Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory Olympiacos 1-0 Fiorentina (aet): El Kaabi's extra-time winner snatches dramatic Europa Conference League glory

    Ayoub El Kaabi was the hero as Olympiacos won their first major European honour in history as they snatched a dramatic 1-0 extra-time victory over Fiorentina in the Europa Conference League final.

    After nothing could separate the sides inside 90 minutes, talisman El Kaabi scored a 116th-minute winner at the AEK Arena as they became the first Greek side to win a major European competition.

    Once again, Fiorentina fell at the final hurdle of this competition, with La Viola also losing out to West Ham in the Prague showpiece last season.

    However, the success belonged to Olympiacos and head coach Jose Luis Mendilibar, who secured continental glory in successive seasons following his Europa League triumph with Sevilla this time last year.

    Daniel Podence tested Pietro Terracciano early on before Fiorentina thought they had opened the scoring just nine minutes into the final.

    Cristiano Biraghi's cross crept into Konstantinos Tzolakis' bottom-right corner, but Nikola Milenkovic was ruled offside for his position in front of the Olympiacos goalkeeper.

    Despite their celebrations being cut short, Fiorentina continued with the greater attacking impetus throughout the first half.

    Yet La Viola's dominance paid little dividends as Giacomo Bonaventura – their scorer in last season’s final defeat to West Ham – wasted the best chance, shooting straight at Tzolakis from close range after 21 minutes.

    Opportunities remained elusive after the break but Fiorentina again went close in the 69th minute as Dodo found Christian Kouame, whose scuffed effort was pushed away by Tzolakis.

    Olympiacos almost struck 11 minutes later when Francisco Ortega's free-kick was met by Iborra, but the 36-year-old's header missed the inside Terracciano's right-hand post as the final headed for extra-time.

    Mendilibar had earlier introduced former Fiorentina striker Stevan Jovetic, who almost came back to haunt his old club in the 96th minute, when cutting inside before fizzing a strike that Terracciano tipped away.

    A penalty shoot-out appeared likely when Tzolakis denied Jonathan Ikone, until El Kaabi ghosted in to nod home Santiago Hezze's cross with just four minutes remaining and send Olympiacos' fans into ecstasy after a lengthy VAR check for offside in Athens.

  • Busby pleased with foundation laid after first session ahead of Brazil friendlies Busby pleased with foundation laid after first session ahead of Brazil friendlies

    Senior Reggae Girlz Head coach Hubert Busby expressed pleasure with the foundation laid at the team’s first in-person engagement since his reappointment, and he believes it sets a good tone for the remainder of the camp in Brazil.

    Busby and his squad –with the exception of Jody Brown, who was scheduled to arrive late –went through what he said was a lively two-hour session to hit the ground running ahead of the two-match friendly series against The Female Canaries on June 1 and June 4.

    While the games will aide Brazil’s preparations for the upcoming Paris Olympic Games, for Busby and his team, the outing is more about rekindling their competitive spirit, as it represents the first assignment together for the core group of players after almost nine months apart.

    Those Girlz that represented at last year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup withdrew their services after the Olympic qualifiers against Canada in September, citing nonpayment and mistreatment from Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) among their reasons.

    Now reunited, Busby pointed out that the first session was to get the Girlz reacquainted with the structures the team plans to implement going forward.

    Reggae Girlz celebrate their historic progression to the knockout rounds at the 2023 World Cup after a 0-0 stalemate with Brazil.

    “Obviously a great first day, the players…some of them came in a little bit late, but they came with a great attitude. We got some passing patterns in, and also got into a little small-sided game just to open up the legs and we also did a little bit of implementation of some of the tactics in terms of how we want to play and build. So overall, spirits are very high, the attitude was good, energy is very good, and everybody was fantastic,” Busby said shortly after Wednesday’s session at Nautico Football Club.

    “Everyone is in good conditions coming off part of a little bit of the season. It was a long travel, there's no way of getting around it, but the players are good. So, you know, all we do need to do now is just really kind of get them recovered, review some film, and to implement that plan a little bit more and get ready for our training tomorrow (Thursday),” he added.

    Having last guided the team in 2021, Busby pointed to the significance of this first camp to reengage players, individually and collectively with a broader view of what his coaching staff is hoping to achieve, as well as to reinforce roles and responsibilities when it comes to team selection.

    “Obviously, the core of this particular group of players have been away for a long time, so the excitement level is good to come in and see their fellow sisters. It's good for them to pull on the jersey and take that pride in playing for their national team and that showed today (Wednesday) and I'm really proud of the way they came out and showed that attitude,” the former national goalkeeper shared.

    “But really for us now, it's for them to kind of focus on what needs to happen. That was the base on some of those one-on-one conversations, as well as to get their expectations of us and also to share our expectations of them…around the roles and responsibilities within our system and then for us to go out and continue to implement that in the daily training sessions,” Busby noted.

    Reggae Girlz vs Brazil at the 2023 World Cup in Australia.

    While the expectation is for his 42nd-ranked Girlz to prove formidable against the number 10-ranked Brazilians, Busby pointed out that getting back to and, by extension, surpassing the team’s competitive level at the World Cup will be a process.

    Jamaica and Brazil met twice at the 2019 and 2023 World Cups. The South Americans won the first encounter in France 3-0, while the Girlz fought gallantly for a goalless stalemate in Australia last year, and made an historic appearance in the knockout stages of the global showpiece.  

    “I think it's been a process, right. I think the idea now we're talking about is how we look to evolve as a team, as a group, and as a programme. Also to best sort of put into place the characteristics of what a Jamaican women's football player should possess on the world stage,” the tactician reasoned.

    “There is also our playing principles in terms of what we want to do, so I think that's the key heading into these next two games. But it's a process and I think after speaking to the players and obviously with the staff, we're committed to that process,” Busby ended.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.