Stieler’s strange evening: The VAR as a “lifesaver”

Tobias Stieler vacillated between shame, deepest gratitude and relief. “My soul is crying a bit,” said the referee after a true Bundesliga curiosity, “but the football world can be satisfied.” The football world – yes. Himself – not at all.

The referee from Hamburg made two big mistakes in Sunday’s league game between Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. Twice he accused Leverkusen’s Amine Adli of swallowing in the Bayern penalty area, twice he imposed a yellow card full of conviction for this alleged attempt at deception. And: Twice he had to take it back sheepishly, ask for an apology and give Bayer a penalty. Exequiel Palacios converted twice, it was a surprising 2-1 (0-1) victory.

Stieler knew who to turn to after the final whistle: his colleague Sören Storks. “It was a prime example of the perfect collaboration with the video assistant,” he said at DAZN. “The VAR always gets a lot of criticism, but that was very good. He was sort of my lifesaver – and also the lifesaver for the game.” The summary: “Twice on the field next to it, twice many thanks to the Kölner Keller for the great support. In the end both teams were happy because the right decision was made.”

Julian Nagelsmann’s mood was by no means aptly described as “happy”, but that wasn’t due to the penalty decisions. After looking at the pictures, there was simply nothing to discuss. “I’m a friend of the VAR, it was correct, there were two penalties and therefore in the sense of fairness,” emphasized the Bayern coach.

Flensburg fails in the title race

The winning streak of the former German champions and Champions League winners SG Flensburg-Handewitt in the Handball Bundesliga (HBL) has broken.

Coach Maik Machulla’s team did not get better than 27:27 (14:13) at Frisch Auf Göppingen on the 23rd matchday and lost an important point after the last six successes in a row in the championship race.

With 33:11 points, the North Germans are now fifth in the table, four minus points behind leaders Füchse Berlin (39:7).

The SG did not live up to their role as favorites in the first German European Cup winner from the start. A game developed at eye level, neither team sat down.

Flensburg still had the chance to score the winning goal in the final minute with possession of the ball, but the Norwegian Magnus Röd made a technical error.

The best thrower of the game was Göppingen’s David Schmidt with eight goals, while Emil Jakobsen (7/4) and Röd (6) were the most successful scorers for the guests.

Before Bayern duel: Rummenigge sees Alonso “on the right track”

Former Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge sees Xabi Alonso on the right track in his first professional position as head football coach.

“Leverkusen gave Xabi this chance and it looks like it was the right decision,” said Rummenigge before the duel between the Bundesliga leaders on Sunday (5:30 p.m. / DAZN) and Bayer in the Munich Merkur / tz interview Friday: “They’re getting better and better rolling.”

The Werkself are on the upswing under the world and European champions, who have been German champions three times with Bayern Munich, and have won five and drawn one in the last six games. With his decision to become a coach, a wish had come true for Rummenigge.

Even after Alonso’s career at Bayern ended, he and Uli Hoeneß considered bringing him to Munich as an assistant coach. With the commitment at Bayer, Rummenigge now sees the first good step in professional football.

The 67-year-old also appreciates the former midfield strategist off the pitch: “I always liked him as a guy. He was a gentleman footballer on the pitch – but also in everyday life.” With all the praise, could the Basque’s path eventually lead to Bayern Munich’s coaching bench? “I am convinced that he will go his own way as a coach, just like he did as a player,” said Rummenigge meaningfully.

Bogdanovic receives 68 million contract

The Atlanta Hawks from the North American basketball professional league NBA will probably equip the Serbian international Bogdan Bogdanovic with a new contract. According to US media reports, the Guard is signing for four years and is expected to earn $68 million (€64.1 million).

According to the reports, the 30-year-old has previously declined a contract option for next season, which is said to have netted him $18 million. Instead, the exceptional player sought a long-term deal, which he should now receive.

Bogdanovic, who comes mostly off the bench with the Hawks this season, moved from the Sacramento Kings to Atlanta in 2020 and surprisingly reached the Conference Finals with the team in 2021. In the current season he averages 14.1 points per game.

Bamberg missed semi-finals

Basketball Bundesliga club Brose Bamberg lost to BC Kalev in the quarter-finals of the Europe Cup.

Nine days after the narrow 77:80 first leg defeat in Tallinn, the former series champion also lost the second leg in the fourth-rate European competition against the Estonian representative 67:85 (43:51).

The best point collector for the Franks was the American Gerel Simmons, the guard came up with 24 points.

There isn’t much time to digest the defeat for the eighth-placed Bundesliga team. Already on Saturday we have to defend the play-off place and the series of five wins in a row against the Rostock Seawolves in the Brose Arena.

Inter celebrates after ludicrous stoppage time

Inter Milan are in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in twelve years.

With a bit of luck and some skill, the Italian soccer cup winners fought a 0-0 draw at FC Porto and successfully defended their 1-0 lead from the first leg. After city rivals AC had submitted, both Milan’s top clubs are now represented in the last eight, as they were last in 2006.

Inter, who had to do without national player Robin Gosens (Wade), had to survive one or the other tricky situation with the Portuguese champions – especially in stoppage time.

First Denzel Dumfries saved from the line, then Mehdi Taremi hit the post. Just a few moments later Marco Grujic’s ball hit the crossbar.

Under the direction of World Cup final referee Szymon Marciniak (Poland), the Nerazzurri, who were opponents of Bayern Munich in the group phase (0:2/0:2), showed a concentrated defensive performance overall.

The advancement of the three-time Champions League winner was also a triumph for coach Simone Inzaghi, who has been heavily criticized after eight league defeats. Porto sorely missed key players like the injured captain Pepe or the suspended Otavio. Former Hertha player Marko Grujic missed a good opportunity (76′) and hit the crossbar in a wild final phase (90’+6), Mehdi Taremi hit the post (90’+5). Pepe saw yellow-red (90 + 7).

A curious scene occurred at the beginning of the second half. Inter professional Denzel Dumfries went down in a duel with Galeno, held on to his pants and tore them down – his opponent was briefly in his panties, the internet was boiling over.

Panic attack! Allegations against WTA boss

Hard allegations against Steve Simon from Lessja Zurenko!

After the Ukrainian withdrew from Aryna Sabalenka ahead of their match in the third round of the WTA tournament in Indian Wells, she cited a panic attack as the reason. In an interview with Ukrainian online media BTU, she said: “I just had a nervous breakdown after all the things I heard. It was a panic attack. I had trouble breathing.”

Responsible for this was a personal conversation with the CEO of the WTA. In it, Simon is said to have expressed his conviction to the 33-year-old that Russian and Belarusian athletes will take part in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. This is only fair.

He is also said to have asked the world No. 95 not to get upset when rivals support Russia’s invasion of their homeland. “This is just her own opinion, and other people’s opinions shouldn’t upset me.”

WTA rejects exclusion of Russian and Belarusian athletes
“I tried to digest it all”, she described the situation since this conversation, but before the duel with Belarusian Sabalenka “I just mentally collapsed”. And she’s not the only one who’s upset. “Ukrainian players in our chat know about this conversation. Everyone felt the same, everyone is shocked.”

When asked to hold a conference call with the WTA, the organization replied that it recognized the difficult situation of Ukrainian athletes.

Nevertheless, it is a basic principle that individual athletes can take part in competitions in a performance-oriented manner and without any form of discrimination. Punishment due to actions of their respective home countries are therefore not planned.

Zurenko now hopes that she can “refocus and better prepare for the next tournament” after the incident.

Eintracht wants to “forego the away contingent”

Frankfurt am Main (SID) – After a renewed ban on fans of Eintracht Frankfurt in the away game in the Champions League at SSC Naples, the Bundesliga soccer club has drawn consequences. “We will completely dispense with the away contingent if, contrary to expectations, the availability does not change at short notice,” said board member Philipp Reschke.

The Prefecture of Naples issued a ban on Sunday evening, for the “protection of public safety” supporters residing in Frankfurt am Main are not allowed to buy tickets for the game. A previous ban was overturned after a legal success of Eintracht.

“There could be countless ways to actually circumvent this decree and bring some of our fans into the stadium. But firstly, we will not allow ourselves to be split up into postcode areas. And secondly, we do not want to expose anyone locally to the obvious danger of official arbitrariness, as we are doing now since the first leg in unprecedented form with everyone responsible in Naples,” said Reschke.

Frankfurt will nevertheless appeal against the order. “In view of the time, it’s all about the principle and the future,” said Reschke. The new decree is “no less illegal in content and justification and also completely unsuitable because two thirds of our fans are known to come from the Rhine-Main region and not from Frankfurt.”

Napoli reacted angrily when the first ban was overturned. The club said they were “deeply concerned about the decision”: “The concern stems from the concrete possibility that riots could occur, as the Interior Ministry’s Analysis Committee for Sports Events found.”

The game will take place on Wednesday (9 p.m. / DAZN) in Italy. The Europa League winner lost the first match in Frankfurt 0:2. There had been some violent attacks and arrests around the stadium around the game.

To prevent such riots from happening again, no tickets should be sold to away fans.

Indian Wells: Struff fails early

Tennis pro Jan-Lennard Struff missed the leap into the third round at the ATP tournament in Indian Wells.

The 32-year-old Warsteiner lost 3:6, 3:6 to Tommy Paul, who was 17th. The American had already thrown Struff out of the tournament at the Australian Open in January.

This continues the unsuccessful tennis year of the German Davis Cup player. Struff had his only win on this year’s tour so far in a 1: 6, 6: 3, 6: 3 against Frenchman Quentin Halys in the first round in Indian Wells.

“Don’t check it anymore”: Freiburg VAR vortex

SC Freiburg missed the coup at Juventus Turin. But the quarter-final dream lives on.

The Italian record champions drew 0-1 (0-0) for the Bundesliga side in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16.

Led by the outstanding Ángel Di Maria, Juve flexed their muscles for an hour. But after the Argentinian’s header (53′), the hosts withdrew more and more and thus missed the preliminary decision.

Bitter for Freiburg: Central defender Philipp Lienhart retired after a collision with Bremer with a leg injury (67th).

VAR whirl: “Don’t check it”
In addition, the equalizer from Lucas Höler was previously conceded by VAR due to a handball from Matthias Ginter (64th). “Of course it’s hand, but not intentional. The Juve player in front of me jumps up, touches the ball and I get it from half a meter. The ball goes to the hand. But it is in front of the body and not spread out. I don’t check it anymore,” said Matthias Ginter on RTL.

Immediately after the kick-off, Freiburg was already swimming and lucky. Christian Streich’s team seemed overwhelmed in the first few minutes.

“We didn’t play the ball clean enough. Basically, everything is still there. But we have to do a few things better,” said coach Christian Streich.

“Against an opponent with such quality, you first have to feel things out. I didn’t think they were that vastly superior. We don’t pay 100% attention in the second half and then the ball hangs,” said keeper Mark Flekken.

dí Maria unstoppable
After just two minutes, Philipp Lienhart clarified after keeper Mark Flekken couldn’t get to the cross from Angel dí Maria in dire need.

The Italian record champions dominated in the early stages. Above all, the outstanding Di Maria was unstoppable and presented the Bundesliga with major problems. He initiated almost every attack himself.

The Argentine served Adrien Rabiot superbly as well. This completed, but Flekken parried outstandingly with his foot and the ball rolled towards the goal. Lienhart cleared there (13′).

But the old lady continued to have the best chances.

After half an hour Bremer got the ball from a corner by Di Maria at the second post and headed it over. Flekken dived under the ball.

Spots against Juve in focus
Just before the break, Juan Cuadrado shot again and Flekken saved (44′).

While Juve pressed, Freiburg remained completely harmless on the offensive. At the break, Baden had not fired a shot. Juve, on the other hand, already had eleven degrees.

However: As the game progressed, the Bundesliga side became more and more secure in defense and the Italians’ attack was no longer so dangerous.

Even after the break, the picture did not change.

Juve kept up the pressure and clearly set the tone. Led by Di Maria, one attack after another rolled towards the Freiburg goal.

dí Maria heads in after a Kostic cross
After a cross from former Frankfurt player Filip Kostic, Di Maria then headed under the bar and was rewarded with the goal (53′).

Freiburg remained safe. But then Lucas Höler hit the first chance with a turning shot out of nowhere. Lucky for Juve: Matthias Ginter put the ball in front of his hands and the video assistant conceded the goal (64th).

Suddenly the old lady only managed and Freiburg came into play. The Streich-Elf shifted the action to the Juve half. Vincenzo Grifo shot just over with a free kick (76′).

The guests didn’t create any better opportunities. In the end it was 19:1 shots on goal for Juve.