Holders Borussia Dortmund shocked by St Pauli in DFB-Pokal

By Sports Desk January 18, 2022

Erling Haaland's penalty was not enough to rescue Borussia Dortmund as they crashed out of the DFB-Pokal following a shock 2-1 defeat by St Pauli.

The reigning champions' title defence came to an abrupt end at Millerntor-Stadion, where the 2. Bundesliga leaders claimed a memorable victory.

Dortmund arrived in the tie having netted five goals without reply in their opening two matches of this season's DFB-Pokal, defeating Wehen Wiesbaden 3-0 and Ingolstadt 2-0.

Meanwhile, only Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg had beaten them in this competition since 2011.

However, they fell behind to Etienne Amenyido's fourth-minute strike, while an Axel Witsel own goal doubled the hosts' lead before the break.

Haaland halved the deficit from the penalty spot 13 minutes into the second half but ,despite eight shots on goal and 70.4 per cent of the possession, the visitors were unable to avert a shock exit.

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  • Ronaldo an 'inspiration' and 'extraordinary' Mbappe a role model for Swiss star Embolo Ronaldo an 'inspiration' and 'extraordinary' Mbappe a role model for Swiss star Embolo

    Breel Embolo hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as an inspiration and Kylian Mbappe as a role model ahead of Switzerland's World Cup last-16 tie against Portugal.

    Embolo has impressed for the Swiss in Qatar, scoring twice in the group stage.

    That is one more goal than Ronaldo has managed, with the Portugal captain netting only in their opening win over Ghana, with the goal coming from the penalty spot.

    It did, however, make Ronaldo the first man to score at five different World Cups, and Embolo is honoured to get the chance to go up against the 37-year-old on the biggest stage.

    "I think Cristiano, not just for forwards, but for all athletes, is a great inspiration and is enriching for our time," he said in a press conference.

    "You can only learn from someone like him. As a player and a person, it's an honour to be facing him."

    France star Mbappe, meanwhile, has been in superb form, scoring five goals to lead the charge for the Golden Boot, with his excellent double against Poland on Sunday sending Les Bleus into a quarter-final against England.

    Mbappe already has nine World Cup goals to his name, as many as Lionel Messi and more than Ronaldo (eight). Aged 23 years and 349 days, he is the youngest player to score five knockout-stage goals at the competition since Brazil great Pele in 1958.

    Embolo is almost two years older than Mbappe, but the Monaco forward still sees him as a player to look up to.

    "He's incredible. He's 23 years old, he's an incredible player, I know him from Ligue 1 and he is a role model even for me," Embolo said of Mbappe.

    "What he's doing at the moment is really impressive, so I want to congratulate him, he is extraordinary.

    "Nine goals in World Cups at 23 – it says everything about him. I really wish him all the best, and for him to score nine more World Cup goals."

    After a full-blooded victory over Serbia to make the last 16, Switzerland are looking to win three games in a single World Cup tournament for the first time in their history.

    Asked if this was the most promising Swiss squad he had been a part of at a major tournament, Embolo replied: "It's like all generations, there is a change. I joined this group six, seven years ago, so it's difficult to say this is the best generation.

    "There have been very great players and these players showed us how to integrate, like Yann Sommer or Granit Xhaka. It's important to keep these values in the team and transmit to the next generation.

    "If I learned something it's that if we had challenging times in our lives or at our clubs but we were always together."

    This will be the third meeting between Portugal and Switzerland in 2022, having faced each other twice in the Nations League in June.

    Portugal won 4-0 in a match played in Lisbon, before Switzerland won 1-0 in Geneva a week later.

    "We are ready, the squad is complete. It's a big opportunity for us to make history for Switzerland, we have seen how euphoric the Swiss people are about us being at this stage," said coach Murat Yakin.

    "Statistics and the past don't matter, we will focus on this game. We are familiar with this opponent and we've proven we can beat them. Everything else is history."

  • Morocco v Spain: Gavi knows pass masters must learn from Japan upset Morocco v Spain: Gavi knows pass masters must learn from Japan upset

    Gavi is retaining faith in Spain's style of player even if the impressive teenage star knows La Rojo must learn from the mistakes made against Japan when they face Morocco in the last 16 of the World Cup.

    Spain were on course to top Group E when Alvaro Morata headed an early opener on Wednesday, but goals from Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka helped the Samurai Blue leapfrog their opponents in stunning fashion.

    For three incredible minutes, Spain even looked set to join Germany in making an early exit as Costa Rica briefly occupied second place.

    Spain ultimately survived despite seeing their seven-match unbeaten run (excluding shoot-outs) at the World Cup halted, and Gavi says Tuesday's game represents a chance to right some wrongs.

    "The match against Japan has to serve as a lesson for what is to come. Luckily, that defeat has been resolved and we are clear about what we have to do," Gavi told Marca.

    "We are in the round of 16 and there are some very good teams that haven't been able to do it. That's why we have to really think that pressure is a privilege."

    Spain completed 2,489 passes in their group-stage campaign, their most at a single tournament on record (since 1966), while their tally of 969 passes against Japan was a record for a losing team at the tournament.

    While Morocco showed their counter-attacking quality to claim four points from games against Croatia and Belgium, Gavi believes Spain must stick to their principles.

    "We are not going to lose focus on the goal, which is to win the World Cup," he added. 

    "We are going to look for it by being faithful to what we have been doing all these years. It would be a mistake to give up everything we believe in."

    Morocco are featuring in the knockout stages of a World Cup for just the second time, having been beaten at this stage by West Germany in 1986.

    The Atlas Lions are chasing a slice of history on Tuesday, when they could match the longest unbeaten run managed by an African side at the World Cup – currently Cameroon's five-game sequence between 1982 and 1990.

    After a 2-1 win over Canada ensured Morocco topped Group F, coach Walid Regragui called for his side to aim high.

    "We didn't come just to say 'oh, we almost got close'," he said. "We need to get the results as all the European or South American teams do. We need to emulate them."

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Morocco – Hakim Ziyech 

    While Romain Saiss and Nayef Aguerd are likely to be busy in the Morocco backline, Regragui's men will carry a threat at the other end – chiefly through Chelsea creator Ziyech.

    Ziyech has played more passes into the box (17) and created more chances (4) than any other Morocco player at the World Cup, as well as leading his team-mates for ball carries (43) and combined distance carried (477.6 metres).

    While Ziyech's counter-attacking prowess is clear, he also scored his first World Cup goal last time out, and the 29-year-old could be a thorn in Spain's side.

    Spain – Alvaro Morata

    While Barcelona playmakers Gavi and Pedri have stolen the headlines for Spain in Qatar, fine margins can often decide knockout games – and Morata's contribution could be key. 

    Though maligned by some, Morata has been consistent in front of goal at this tournament, hitting the net on each of his three appearances despite playing a total of just 126 minutes.

    Morata started two of Spain's three knockout games at Euro 2020 last year, and if he can reward Luis Enrique's faith with another goal, he will join David Villa as just the second Spanish player to score in four consecutive World Cup matches.

    PREDICTION

    Spain have never lost in their three previous meetings with Morocco (W2 D1), and Opta's prediction model makes them strong favourites to advance to the last eight, giving them a 61.3 per cent chance of victory.

    However, Morocco did claim a 2-2 draw in the teams' only previous World Cup contest in 2018, and a repeat – which would mean extra-time and potentially penalties – is given a 24 per cent chance. 

    The Atlas Lions have provided one of the great underdog stories of this tournament, but their chances of an historic victory are rated at just 14.7 per cent, making them big outsiders.

  • Luis Enrique refuses to focus on the negatives ahead of Morocco meeting Luis Enrique refuses to focus on the negatives ahead of Morocco meeting

    Spain coach Luis Enrique is refusing to look at the negatives from his side's loss to Japan, instead pointing to how well La Roja played across their World Cup group stage games.

    Japan beat Spain 2-1 on Thursday to secure top spot in Group E, setting up a last-16 tie with Croatia while also condemning Germany to an early exit.

    Spain had 82.3 per cent of the possession and attempted 1,058 passes to Japan's 228, and had 12 shots, with five hitting the target.

    However, Spain's efforts only accumulated to 1.04 expected goals (xG), whereas Japan's six attempts added up to a combined xG of 1.45, with Ritsu Doan and Junya Ito scoring in the space of three second-half minutes.

    If reports in the Spanish media are to be believed, former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique might be replaced as Spain boss after the World Cup, but ahead of Tuesday's last-16 tie with Morocco, he has full conviction in his approach.

    "We are talking about 270 minutes if I'm not wrong, plus added time [in the group stage]," Luis Enrique said in a press conference when he was asked if his team failed to recover from setbacks during matches. 

    "Out of 300 minutes in total, you focus on 10 minutes that you didn't like. As far as we progress, you will see more of these minutes.

    "We are footballers and the opponents also play. There are things to be improved, and I'm sure we will be bitten by Morocco in some moments of the game.

    "We can't take blows? What about them? Did Germany take it well when we scored? We are in a competition where the score dictates the risk you are willing to take.

    "Other teams pull back but we keep attacking and of course we need to improve that."

    Asked if his team lacked the experience required to see out spells of pressure, Luis Enrique replied: "It's such a cliche, we have to try and get rid of this idea.

    "I don't believe they lacked experience. Experience in what? Being builders, carpenters? When you lose, people talk about issues and if you win, they don't.

    "I don't share this analysis. This team will be recognised by the way we play, analyse our matches, our philosophy but not these sorts of issues.

    "Mistakes happen, we are talking about a very complex, unfair sport, 11 players on a huge field, it's impossible to control all the aspects.

    "At the end of the day the ones making the decisions are the players, I want them to implement my idea and I want them to buy the whole package when they lose, it's not fair to only buy it when we win."

    Spain have only made it beyond the round of 16 once at the last four World Cups, when they went on to win the trophy in South Africa in 2010. This record, though, is of no concern to Luis Enrique.

    "This is not our usual trend, to look at everything from a negative perspective," he said.

    "I am not concerned about those results. I want to control the things I can control as a coach. I want my team to play in a certain way, I want my players to forget about the result.

    "Football is not fair but if you have more merit you usually win the game. I am convinced we will have more merit than Morocco. Our objective was to play seven games, so we want to play seven games."

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