European soccer news: Dream goal for Real Madrid’s Güler

It’s another weekend of exciting action across Europe and here we are again to bring you a review of all the sights, sounds and drama that has occurred.

In Spain, we saw Real Madrid get closer to the LaLiga title following a 1-0 win against Real Sociedad, while over in Serie A there was a lackluster 0-0 draw between Juventus and AC Milan. Bayer Leverkusen remain unbeaten in the Bundesliga after a dramatic 2-2 draw with VfB Stuttgart, but the real spectacle was in Leipzig where Marco Rose’s side hit four past Borussia Dortmund.

Let’s take a look back at what happened all across the continent this weekend.

Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)

SATURDAY REVIEW

Güler scores as Madrid grow their lead at the top

Arda Güler will get the minutes he wants” was what Carlo Ancelotti said this week. On Friday, the Real Madrid coach was true to his word. The 19-year-old Güler got his first league start away at Real Sociedad and was rewarded with the goal that gave Madrid a 1-0 win to increase their lead at the top of the LaLiga table.

Güler has had to be patient this season. A pre-season meniscus injury disrupted his start to life at the Santiago Bernabeu, followed by two muscular problems which kept him out until January. Since then, more patience has been required, with Ancelotti reluctant to throw the raw teenager into a team looking to win LaLiga and the UEFA Champions League.

The playmaker scored his first Madrid goal off the bench against Celta Vigo on March 10, and almost got the goal of the season at Osasuna a week later, hitting the bar from the halfway line. ESPN has reported that some at Madrid feel Ancelotti should have given the teenager more opportunities to prove himself.

Those voices will have been happy with Güler’s contribution in San Sebastian. His 29th-minute goal was a cool finish, slotting Dani Carvajal‘s cross first time through the legs of keeper Álex Remiro. Before that, Güler had been booked for arguing with the referee; later, he showed deceptive strength going shoulder-to-shoulder with defender Robin Le Normand. There were two second-half shots from distance before he was substituted in the 68th minute.

Güler’s 2023-24 record now reads six LaLiga appearances — one start here, after five as a sub — and two goals, an impressive return given such limited minutes. His development might be best served on loan next season, playing every week, but Ancelotti won’t hear it. “Arda will be a very important player for us in the future,” the coach said post-match. “There’s no doubt he stays with us next year.” — Alex Kirkland

play

2:41

Arda Guler’s first-half goal the difference in Real Madrid win

Real Madrid sit multiple starters and go to Real Sociedad and pick up a 1-0 win.


Saturday talking points around the leagues

Dortmund collapse against Leipzig days before Champions League clash with PSG

In a battle for fourth place in the Bundesliga standings on Saturday afternoon, RB Leipzig comfortably eased past Borussia Dortmund to extend the gap between the two teams to five points with three games remaining.

Four days before their Champions League semifinal first leg against Paris Saint-Germain, fifth-placed Borussia Dortmund lacked the luxury of resting key players. However, both Emre Can and Ian Maatsen missed the game in eastern Germany through suspension.

Before Saturday’s game, RB Leipzig had prevailed in four of their five previous meetings with Dortmund, with Leipzig’s intense pressing style often neutralizing BVB’s efforts in possession. During the opening quarter, the dynamic between the two teams looked quite familiar. Dortmund were indebted to their two center-backs, Mats Hummels and Nico Schlotterbeck, for surviving the game’s early stages without conceding.

Once Jadon Sancho scored the go-ahead goal for the visitors, all hell broke loose at both ends of the pitch. But Leipzig converted their chances for a 2-1 lead at halftime. Moments after the break, Dortmund were caught off guard again, as Leipzig advanced down the field at a rapid pace to set up a Mohamed Simakan goal. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse for BVB, Hummels had to be taken off with what appeared to be a muscle injury, putting his availability for Wednesday’s game against Paris in jeopardy.

A lackluster Dortmund failed to mount a second-half comeback. Leipzig remained more dangerous offensively and added a fourth goal in the 80th minute. While Dortmund have normally played better in Champions League games this season, this performance in a crucial league game does not bode well for their chances against a Kylian Mbappé-inspired PSG side.

Dortmund’s chances of finishing fourth in the Bundesliga are now incredibly slim with Leipzig five points ahead. However, the Bundesliga will likely be granted a fifth spot for next year’s Champions League, thanks largely to strong results by Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich and Dortmund in European competition this campaign. — Constantin Eckner

Juve and Milan serve up forgettable draw

Once again, Serie A has been great this season. Inter Milan are superb champions, Bologna and manager Thiago Motta have been a beautiful revelation, Atalanta a breath of fresh air, Fiorentina a joy to watch, and Daniele De Rossi a pleasant surprise for Roma. We have had some great games, amazing derbies and late drama. And then we had Juventus against Milan on Saturday. The most disappointing 0-0 draw of the season. 90 minutes of not much between a Turin side that has been average all season (to be kind) and a Milan team who had not won any of their last four matches and suffered a historic defeat in the Derby della Madonnina on Monday to crown their arch-rivals and neighbouring champions.

Christian Pulisic and his teammates are second in the table and for them, the only objective in this game was simply not to lose. They played for a 0-0 draw and they got it. They didn’t create anything, had zero shots on target and mere expected goals of 0.31.

Juventus tried a bit more at least. They had two big chances saved by Marco Sportiello, in front of Danilo with a great acrobatic move and on a Arkadiusz Milik header. The Bianconeri were poor in the first half but had to push a bit more after the break because their third place is not guaranteed at all considering their current form: only two wins in their last nine games. They are only three points clear of Bologna in fourth and seven on Roma in fifth who both have a game in hand while Atalanta are 11 points behind in sixth but with two games in hand. This could be a very tense end of the season for them with four matches to go! And Saturday’s game didn’t do much good for head coach Max Allegri’s future at the club. This team and this club are going nowhere with him at the helm.

For Milan, it is all about seeing out the season now after a disappointing last few weeks, losing to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals and handing the title to Inter. Manager Stefano Pioli is also under pressure regarding his future at the club and today’s performance would not have really helped him either. — Julien Laurens


Americans abroad: Sargent scores, Americans in Italy disappoint

The huge highlight coming from the USMNT players abroad on Saturday came in England where Josh Sargent scored in Norwich City‘s 2-2 draw against Swansea City as the striker now has 16 goals to his name in the EFL Championship.

With that goal, he becomes the leading top American goalscorer in England’s second division, surpassing Coventry City’s Haji Wright by one goal. The Canaries are still pushing to get promoted to the Premier League as they currently sit in fifth place in the league table, in a qualification spot for the play-offs as they look to join Leicester City and another side to England’s first division next season.

Meanwhile, in Italy, we saw an all-American affair as Juventus of Timothy Weah and Weston McKennie took on AC Milan of Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah in a heavyweight clash between two historical giants in Serie A.

However, it was a mere dull encounter as both teams played to a scoreless draw, meaning that Milan continue in second below the newly crowned champions and neighbors, Inter but above Juve by five points as both teams look to qualify for next season’s Champions League. — Roberto Rojas


News of the day


And finally, on Saturday …

46 matches unbeaten in all competitions. An insane number continues to increase as the new reigned Bundesliga champions from Germany in Bayer Leverkusen snatched another last-minute result that keeps their unbeaten streak to 46 games following a comeback 2-2 draw at home to VfB Stuttgart.

It was looking like it was going to go the way of the visitors as two goals from the second half came from Chris Führich and Deniz Undav in a span of 10 minutes meaning that Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten streak was going to be broken right at the near end of the Bundesliga season. However, this is Bayer Leverkusen we’re talking about. They don’t give up as they have repeated done so in the league and also in the Europa League.

play

1:04

Leverkusen equalizes in final seconds to keep unbeaten Bundesliga season alive

Robert Andrich scores in the final seconds of added time to equalize for Bayer Leverkusen, keeping their unbeaten Bundesliga season alive.

A goal from Amine Adli 29 minutes from time restored some hope for Leverkusen and they kept attacking by putting more pressure on Stuttgart until the final ball came in the 96th minute, as off a free kick, the ball was found to Robert Andrich and struck it into the back of the next to secure a point and keep his team’s streak alive as they head into their Europa League semifinal tie against Roma this upcoming week.

A even crazier stat? Bayer Leverkusen have now scored an equalizer or game winner in stoppage time on 10 different occasions! An insane amount as they look to cap off a historic season with possibly three trophies. But for now, the unbeaten streak continues. — Rojas