Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose asked to ease the pressure on Erling Haaland and let him recover from a thigh injury amid question marks over his availability for Norway ahead of their World Cup qualifiers.

Haaland was absent again as Dortmund defeated Augsburg 2-1 in the Bundesliga thanks to goals from Raphael Guerreiro and Julian Brandt on Saturday.

Dortmund sensation Haaland also missed last weekend's defeat to Borussia Monchengladbach and the Champions League victory over Sporting CP on Tuesday.

As Norway prepare for qualifiers against Turkey (October 8) and Montenegro (October 11) on the road to Qatar 2022, Rose stressed that both the national team and Dortmund need the 21-year-old forward back.

"It is not my job to finish someone's hope," Rose said following the victory over Augsburg. "All I can tell you about is the status quo. Erling has been trying to play for days now. Who knows him also knows that he always wants to play.

"He didn't make it for the Champions League. It started in Gladbach and didn't work today. And he told me very timely 'Manager, I would love to play, but I can't move the way I want to. I can't even walk'. 

"This is the status quo we are working with, and I think it would be clever if we could all stop speculating. I understand the Norwegian federation. He is a human being, not a machine. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. We have to get him healthy for Borussia Dortmund but also for the Norway national team.

"We had two games without him now and at the moment, things don't look good for Norway either. This is also what Erling says, and we should release the pressure and not ask about his status every day. We should let him recover."

Haaland has scored 68 goals in 67 appearances for Dortmund since arriving from Salzburg in January 2020.

The in-demand Dortmund star opened the season by scoring 11 goals across seven games in all competitions.

Without Haaland, Dortmund recorded their eighth straight Bundesliga home triumph as Marco Reus teed up Brandt for the 51st-minute winner.

Dortmund captain Reus is the third Bundesliga player since detailed data collection to assist 100 goals in competitive matches after Thomas Muller (176) and Franck Ribery (132).

Dortmund are second in the Bundesliga, a point behind rivals Bayern Munich, who are due to host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund boss Marco Rose has welcomed Gareth Southgate's decision to leave Jude Bellingham out of England's latest squad.

Teenage midfielder Bellingham was a surprise omission from Southgate's 23-man group on Thursday after impressing for Dortmund in his second campaign at the club.

Southgate explained he left out the 18-year-old due to fears of burnout, with Manchester United's Mason Greenwood overlooked for the same reason.

Bellingham's 802 minutes of playing time this term is the most of any England-qualified player in Europe's top five leagues when taking all competitions into account.

Since making his Dortmund debut on September 14 last year, the Birmingham City academy product has played 56 matches, 43 of those coming from the start.

Rose is therefore grateful that the youngster will be given a chance to rest up.

"I think it's a good decision," Rose said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's Bundesliga clash with Augsburg. "The reason is obvious to me.

"In spite of his capabilities, he is an 18-year-old and has very little rest. We have to take care of the boys and not burn them out. That's why I welcome the decision."

 

Bellingham's team-mate Erling Haaland will play no part in Saturday's visit of Augsburg as he continues to recover from a thigh injury that has ruled him out of the last two games.

Haaland has been named in Norway's squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers against Turkey and Montenegro, but Rose revealed the striker will not link up with his national side.

"We're going to keep him here for the time being and make the best possible use of the time," Rose said.

"He's asked every day when he can return, so the rest will do him good. He's going to stay here for the time being."

The loss of Haaland for another game will be a major blow for Dortmund, as he has scored 68 goals in 67 games since making his debut in January 2020.

Only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, with 86 goals in 71 games in all competitions, has scored more times during that period among players from Europe's top five leagues.

Dortmund have won their past three Bundesliga home matches against Augsburg, with their only defeat in the last 10 meetings coming in February 2015. 

When we look ahead to the Olympics, we usually think about track & field sports, swimming, cycling, maybe even wrestling and boxing.

Given it dominates so much of the sporting agenda for the rest of the year, football may not be among those sports we initially associate with the Olympics, but it has offered numerous stars the opportunity to show their talents to a global audience and to potentially take home a coveted medal.

Of course, the Olympic football tournament is geared more towards lesser-established players, given the age-restriction rules in place.

While teams are usually allowed no more than three players over the age of 23, that age limit has been increased to 24 so not to penalise those around the cut-off who may well have missed out as a result of the 12-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Superstars such as Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi may be missing, but there are still plenty of familiar faces. Barcelona's Pedri will be involved after starring for Spain at Euro 2020; Brazil great Dani Alves is joined by Arsenal and Everton forwards Gabriel Martinelli and Richarlison; and dynamic Milan midfielder Franck Kessie will be the Ivory Coast's go-to man.

But there are plenty of other relatively unheralded talents ready to make you sit up and take note. Below, Stats Perform takes a look at 10 of them.

Facundo Medina, 22, centre-back – Argentina

It's fair to say Lens defender Medina has enjoyed a rapid rise to prominence. The French side brought him in from Club Atletico Talleres just last July and he's already being mentioned as a potential target for clubs like Manchester United.

While he may not be the most physically imposing central defender, he's a good technician, which is demonstrated by his ease on the ball – only three Ligue 1 centre-backs (more than 1,000 minutes played) embarked on more ball carries per 90 minutes (20) than Medina, while his average of 56 successful passes per game was more than any of his team-mates.

Bryan Gil, 20, winger – Spain

La Roja's squad is packed with familiar names – as many as six were at Euro 2020, and that doesn't include the likes of Marco Asensio, Carlos Soler and Dani Ceballos. But of the players with less global recognition, old-fashioned left-winger Bryan is arguably the most exciting.

He just completed a very encouraging loan spell away from Sevilla with Eibar, where his direct and brave style of play was frequently on display, with only Lionel Messi, Javi Galan and Yannick Carrasco attempting more dribbles than him (132). In January he became only the second player born this century to score a LaLiga brace, and he won his first senior Spain caps this year.

 

Diego Lainez, 21, winger – Mexico

It feels like Lainez has been tipped for a big future for a long time now – after all, he first burst on to the scene with Club America four years ago. Two-and-a-half years into his time in LaLiga with Real Betis, he's yet to really establish himself with only 13 of his 48 league appearances coming as a starter. He's still not scored a goal.

But there's no doubting he's a talent. In 2020-21, he attempted a dribble every 17 minutes, which was a record among Betis players and ahead of even Nabil Fekir (21 mins). Lainez is an entertainer and clearly gifted, but perhaps lacking consistency in his end product. Who knows, as one of the more talented players in the Mexico squad, being seen as a go-to player may aid his quest for maturity.

Teji Savanier, 29, central midfielder – France

Savanier is the odd one out in this list, given he's the only one who actually counts towards an over-age quota, though it could be argued that it's to players like him that playing at the Olympics may matter the most. Savanier's never even played for France's youth teams, let alone the senior side, and he only made his top-flight bow as recently as 2018, but he's one of those central midfielders that's a joy to watch with his wonderful ability on the ball.

He has completed 58.4 per cent of his 279 dribbles in Ligue 1 since July 2018, which is bettered by only three players (more than 150 attempts) in the same period. For greater context, Neymar's completion rate in that time is 52.5 per cent. Savanier should also provide France with a threat at set-pieces, as only Benjamin Bourigeaud created more chances (40) from such situations than the Montpellier star (37) in 2020-21.

 

Thiago Almada, 20, attacking midfielder – Argentina

La Albiceleste's squad boasts numerous talented young attacking players – Ezequiel Barco, Pedro de la Vega, Ezequiel Ponce, but Almada's arguably rated highest of the lot.

A diminutive attacking midfielder from Carlos Tevez's old neighbourhood in Buenos Aires, Fuerte Apache, Almada is skilful, explosive and creative. Among players born this century, Almada boasts the best chances created per game frequency (two) in the Copa Libertadores (at least two games played) this season, as well as being the youngest player to have netted at least twice in the competition in 2021.

Claudinho, 24, forward – Brazil

All roads point to Europe for Claudinho, who looks poised to be the first major export of Red Bull Bragantino, the energy drink giant's Brazilian club. While no move has been confirmed yet, it seems only a matter of time before RB Leipzig look to bring him over to Germany.

 

After all, he was the joint-top scorer in the 2020 Brasileirao (18 goals), with his finishing abilities highlighted by the fact a league-high seven of those were scored from outside the box. Claudinho also created 25 more chances than anyone else in the division, and scooped both the Young Player of the Year and MVP awards.

 

Nathanael Mbuku, 19, winger – France

He may not necessarily be a starter for Les Bleus, given they've plenty of attacking talent in the squad, but at the very least left-winger Mbuku could be an interesting option from the bench. Reims are reported to already value him at €15million, and he has previous when it comes to excelling in national team colours – he netted five goals in six games as France finished third at the 2019 Under-17 World Cup.

Mbuku enjoyed a smattering of Ligue 1 appearances that season, though it was in 2020-21 that he truly established himself, making 28 starts – that was tied with Eduardo Camavinga for the most by a player born in 2002 or after. He caught the eye with his ability to beat a man, completing a highly respectable 58.1 per cent of his 74 dribbles last term, a completion rate bettered by only 10 players who attempted at least 70.

Felix Uduokhai, 23, centre-back – Germany

Wolfsburg plucked Uduokhai from 1860 Munich in 2017 with much expected of him. He fell well out of favour in his second season before moving on loan to Augsburg, who triggered their purchase option on him last year. Since moving to Bavaria, he's hardly looked back.

He earned his first senior call-up to the Germany team in November and now there is chatter that some of the Bundesliga's biggest clubs are circling for him again. Whoever gets Uduokhai will land an imposing centre-back whose 102 aerial wins was the fourth-highest in the league last term, while only Amos Pieper (160) bettered his 157 clearances.

 

Brenno, 22, goalkeeper – Brazil

For years, goalkeeper was considered the only position where Brazil struggled to develop world-class players, though Alisson and Ederson have firmly disproved that notion and Brenno could be another to keep an eye on.

In the 2021 Brasileirao, Brenno is averaging the fourth-most amount of saves per 90 minutes (3.5) among those to have played at least four times, and is reportedly interesting Portuguese clubs. A solid showing in Japan might see a potential transfer sped up.

Amad Diallo, 19, winger – Ivory Coast

Manchester United fans will be eager to get a good look at Amad during the Olympics, given they only got glimpses of him in 2020-21 after joining from Atalanta. Amid those eight appearances, he certainly showed flashes of his exciting ability and silky footwork, but they will hope to see some performances of a little more substance.

As much as anything, it could be an opportunity for Amad to earn himself a loan move or prove to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer he's worth keeping around. Jadon Sancho's arrival will likely further impact his exposure to first-team football, but impressing in Japan might encourage his manager to use him as a regular back up to the England international, with Mason Greenwood moved into a central position.

Robert Lewandowski broke Gerd Muller's long-standing record for goals scored in a single Bundesliga season with a last-gasp effort as Bayern Munich routed Augsburg 5-2 on a day of fond farewells.

The prolific Pole could only watch on as an own goal plus efforts from Serge Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman had the champions flying at half-time of the season finale at the Allianz Arena.

But, after consolations from Andre Hahn and Florian Niederlechner, Lewandowski followed in when Rafal Gikiewicz spilled Leroy Sane's effort to make it 41 top-flight goals for the season with the last kick of the game.

It was a dramatic ending to an emotional outing, which was the last for head coach Hansi Flick and modern-day Bayern greats David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez.

Robert Lewandowski was brought off in the second half of Bayern Munich's edgy 1-0 victory against Augsburg as a precaution, head coach Hansi Flick confirmed.

Lewandowski scored the 13th-minute penalty that ultimately secured the three points for Bundesliga champions Bayern at the Augsburg Arena on Wednesday.

However, superstar striker Lewandowski was substituted after 67 minutes and Bayern were left grateful for a spot-kick miss from Alfred Finnbogason midweek.

Flick explained the surprising decision was because Lewandowski has been managing an issue with his thigh.

"[It was] to be on the safe side because Robert is very important to us. We didn't want to take any risks," Flick said in quotes reported by SID.

"He already said this morning that he could feel something in the thigh muscles on the back, but [he felt] that he could control it quite well."

Bayern were brilliant in the opening period but struggled in the second half in a theme of only playing well in patches that has become rather familiar in recent weeks.

Back-to-back wins and a first clean sheet since October followed a loss to Borussia Monchengladbach and a shock DFB-Pokal exit to second-tier Holsten Kiel, with Bayern's performances well below their best.

Flick, though, said even a team like Bayern – who won a superb treble in 2019-20 – can hit a "limit" in what has been a testing period.

"The team played an outstanding year, at some point they too are at their limit," he added to Sky Germany, with Bayern four points clear atop the table. 

"It was a bit of luck against Freiburg in the end, but very important. We [wanted] to add more today and take three points with us to Munich."

Bayern Munich's luck was in as a story of two penalties was the main tale in their 1-0 win over Augsburg in Tuesday's Bundesliga contest.

Robert Lewandowski calmly slotted home from the spot after 13 minutes at Augsburg Arena and missed a glut of chances in a first half dominated by the champions.

It was a completely different outlook for Bayern after the break, though, and Hansi Flick's side were left breathing a sigh of relief when Alfred Finnbogason struck the post with a penalty of his own 15 minutes from time.

The end result means Bayern remain four points clear at the top but Flick will want to see fewer of the Jekyll-and-Hyde performances that have been on display in recent weeks from his side.

Rani Khedira's clumsy kick on Lucas Hernandez allowed Lewandowski to find the bottom-right corner with a cool 13th-minute penalty that looked like setting the tone for a dominant win.

Serge Gnabry was denied by the busy Rafal Gikiewicz and Thomas Muller put the rebound narrowly wide as Bayern peppered the hosts' goal.

Gnabry was kept out again by Gikiewicz before teeing up Lewandowski, who was guilty of wastefulness a couple of times, with the Pole only hitting the outside of the post with the goal gaping.

A second half completely at odds with the first saw Bayern struggle to create openings and Daniel Caligiuri's long-range effort would have briefly had away hearts in mouths before rising comfortably over.

There was an even greater left-off shortly after when substitute Finnbogason fluffed his lines from the spot after Benjamin Pavard had been pinged for handball from Iago's flick in the area.

Muller had the ball in the net but Jamal Musiala clearly ran the ball out in the act of setting him up, before Florian Niederlechner skewed wide and Felix Uduokhai headed over in further late scares that a lacklustre Bayern ultimately survived.

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