Hansi Flick has done enough to convince Bayern Munich to make him their permanent head coach, with the club confirming on Friday he had signed a contract until 2023.

A former assistant to Germany coach Joachim Low, Flick steadied the ship in the wake of Niko Kovac's sacking and has gone on to gain the second-best points-per-game record in Bundesliga history at 2.47 – only Pep Guardiola's 2.52 is better.

Bayern have scored 67 goals in their 21 games in all competitions since he took the helm and were on a 15-game unbeaten run when the coronavirus outbreak brought the majority of football in Europe to a halt.

We take a look at the games that may well have convinced Flick's superiors to keep him in the top job for the next three years.

 

November 9, 2019 - Bayern Munich 4-0 Borussia Dortmund

After overseeing a 2-0 Champions League win over Olympiacos in his first game at the helm, Flick's first taste of Bundesliga action came in Der Klassiker against Dortmund.

Despite the change of coach, Robert Lewandowski continued his fine scoring streak by taking his Bundesliga tally to 16 with a double – one goal either side of an effort from Serge Gnabry early in the second half.

An own goal from former Bayern defender Mats Hummels capped a resounding victory.

Lewandowski said: "Hansi Flick did a great job in just a few days to set us up tactically very well. The players believed directly in him and his words, he has breathed a new life into us."

During the international break that was followed it was confirmed Flick would stay on until at least Christmas.

 

December 11, 2019 – Bayern Munich 3-1 Tottenham

Flick went on to rack up four straight wins to start his tenure, but back-to-back defeats to Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach left Bayern seventh in the Bundesliga and seven points off top.

They quickly got back on track with a 3-1 win over Tottenham in a Champions League group-stage clash at the Allianz Arena.

Kingsley Coman scored the opener but was forced off in the 27th minute with a knee injury that kept him out for two months.

Thomas Muller and Philippe Coutinho made sure of the win after Ryan Sessegnon's equaliser, with Lewandowski remaining an unused substitute as Bayern reached the last 16 with maximum points.

 

February 1, 2020 – Mainz 1-3 Bayern Munich

Bayern confirmed Flick would see out the campaign during the mid-season break and this victory over Mainz made it seven straight successes in all competitions.

The reigning Bundesliga champions effectively put the game to bed within 26 minutes – Lewandowski, Muller and Thiago Alcantara scoring during a rampant first-half showing.

Most importantly, though, it sent the Bavarian giants to the top of the table and there has been no moving them since.

 

February 25, 2020 – Chelsea 0-3 Bayern Munich

A last-16 tie with Chelsea in the Champions League looked sure to provide plenty of entertainment and the first leg at Stamford Bridge was tightly poised at half-time.

Gnabry struck twice in the space of three minutes early in the second half to break the game open and Lewandowski's instinctive finish in the closing stages ensured Bayern left west London with a healthy aggregate lead.

The result carried even more weight given that it was the first time the teams had met in Europe's premier club competition since Chelsea defeated Bayern in the final at the Allianz Arena in 2012.

 

February 29, 2020 – Hoffenheim 0-6 Bayern Munich

Lewandowski suffered a broken tibia in his left leg against Chelsea and was consequently ruled out for approximately one month.

The Poland international had scored 39 goals in 33 appearances in all competitions for Bayern in 2019-20, but his team-mates stepped up to the mark in their first game without him.

In a match that was overshadowed by demonstrations against Hoffenheim owner Dietmar Hopp that forced a stoppage in play, Gnabry, Joshua Kimmich and Joshua Zirkzee – who was making his first Bundesliga start – struck inside the opening 15 minutes and Coutinho made it 4-0 by half-time.

Coutinho doubled his tally early in the second half and Leon Goretzka rounded off a triumph that sent out a message to Bayern's title rivals.

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking, passing and defensive numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the goalkeepers.

We have analysed five metrics for keepers to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, giving us a good summary of those most in need of some improvement.

The metrics include goals conceded, save percentage and drops.

It's time to name and shame...

 

THE WORST GOALKEEPINGING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most goals conceded: Jiri Pavlenka (53)
Worst save percentage: Roman Burki (53.62 per cent)
Most drops: Alexander Nubel (6)
Worst passing accuracy: Tomas Koubek (54.89)
Worst keeper sweeper accuracy: Leopold Zingerle (0 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most goals conceded: Diego Lopez (46)
Worst save percentage: Juan Soriano (55 per cent)
Most drops: Simon Unai, Aitor Fernandez, Marko Dmitrovic, Diego Lopez (3)
Worst passing accuracy: David Soria (40.79 per cent)
Worst keeper sweeper accuracy: Simon Unai (33.33 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Hansi Flick has signed a three-year contract as Bayern Munich's head coach, the Bundesliga champions confirmed on Friday.

Flick took over from Niko Kovac in November in an initial interim role, before being appointed head coach on a full-time basis until the end of the season.

Having appeared in danger of failing to mount a title challenge under Kovac, Flick has since restored the winning habit, returning Bayern to the top of the Bundesliga.

Prior to the forced hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bayern had gone four points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the summit, crushed Chelsea away in their Champions League last-16 first leg and booked a place in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals.

Club CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Bayern's website: "FC Bayern is very happy with Hansi Flick's work. The team has developed very well under him and plays attractive football, which is also reflected in the results.

"We are the only German club that is still represented in all three competitions. I also like the way he leads the team, his human qualities are convincing, his empathy speaks for him.

"FC Bayern trusts Hansi Flick and we are convinced that we will continue to achieve our goals with him in the future."

Speculation since Germany's mid-season break suggested Flick's work with Bayern was earning him admirers elsewhere, with reports claiming he had received offers from top-level clubs in Germany and England.

Such stories seemed to be applying pressure to Bayern, although sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic insists the club were working to a plan all along when it came to the former national team assistant coach's future.

"From day one when Hansi took over the team, we had a plan for how we would deal with the situation," Salihamidzic said.

"First, Hansi took over for two games, then until Christmas, then there was an agreement that he would be our coach until the end of the season.

"Hansi has been loyal and disciplined to this, that is a quality. Another is the results that Hansi achieved with our team. These results speak for themselves.

"Hansi and I know in which direction we want to develop the team. Football faces great challenges. We believe that Hansi is also the right head coach for this time."

Liverpool were set to emerge at the Etihad Stadium this weekend, either with the scent of triumph in their nostrils or the delicious addition of a guard of honour from Manchester City.

The coronavirus pandemic has placed elite sport across the globe on hold, meaning the latest episode of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's captivating rivalry must wait.

Nevertheless, given their former employers Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund were also due to meet in Der Klassiker, it feels like a good time to run the rule over two men whose tactical approaches and high levels of achievement have – and it does not feel too grandiose to suggest this – changed football in the 21st century, as well as one another.

THE BUNDESLIGA YEARS

Guardiola's arrival to take the reins of a treble-winning Bayern for 2013-14 came shortly after their rivalry with Klopp's Dortmund reached its peak.

Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner saw Bayern down BVB 2-1 in the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley – a game played out against a backdrop of Dortmund's star playmaker Mario Gotze agreeing terms to move to Bavaria.

In hindsight, Klopp's gegenpressing machine – winners of back-to-back Bundesliga crowns in 2010-11 and 2011-12 – were coming off the top of their curve, having finished 25 points behind a relentless Bayern domestically that season.

The decline continued over the next two seasons. Dortmund were remarkably in relegation trouble halfway through 2014-15, before a post-Christmas recovery preceded Klopp's emotional farewell.

Nevertheless, there was still time for telling blows to be landed. Guardiola's first competitive game in charge saw Bayern beaten 4-2 in the 2013 DFL-Supercup at a delirious Signal Iduna Park.

Stung by that loss, Guardiola sprung a notable surprise in the first league encounter between the sides that November, where he broke Dortmund's rabid press by playing Javi Martinez as an attacking midfielder and repeatedly targeting the rangy Spain international with long balls.

The high priest of tiki-taka (a label Guardiola famously loathes) had presided over "more long balls than in the last three years combined" from a Bayern team, according to Klopp, who bristled after Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller added to Gotze's inevitable second-half opener in a 3-0 win.

A depleted Munich were similarly reactive when they won the DFB-Pokal final 2-0 in extra-time, even if flooding midfield numbers was a more recognisably Guardiola tactic.

Diverting from his dizzying 4-3-3 of swirling triangles has remained something the Catalan tactician has frequently done across his meetings with Klopp, and not always with the success he enjoyed in Germany.

HOLLOW VICTORIES AND THE PHONEY WAR

Klopp ended his homeland head-to-head against Guardiola with three victories, making it back-to-back Supercup triumphs in 2014, having claimed a 3-0 Bundesliga result at Allianz Arena earlier that year – the authority of which was dimmed by the fact Bayern had already cantered to the title.

Guardiola had four victories to his name, with one draw ultimately falling in Dortmund's favour as Bayern failed with all four of their penalty attempts in a 2015 DFB-Pokal semi-final shoot-out.

However, Klopp was denied a glorious farewell as his team lost in the final to Wolfsburg and the fact Robert Lewandowski had followed Gotze to Munich by this point underlined a deck stacked against him.

Liverpool came calling for Klopp in October 2015 and he helmed helter-skelter runs to the EFL Cup and Europa League finals. Manchester City and Sevilla prevailed respectively.

That was Manuel Pellegrini's final honour as City boss as he made way for Guardiola, who collected a third successive Bundesliga title in 2015-16. Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund finished closer in terms of position and points (second, 10 behind) than Klopp's version had managed when in direct competition.

With the stage presumably set for renewed hostilities between Guardiola and incoming Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, the similarly newly installed Antonio Conte did not read the script as Chelsea romped to 2016-17 Premier League glory.

Klopp got the better of his head-to-heads with City as a Georginio Wijnaldum goal sealed a 1-0 New Year's Eve win at Anfield before Sergio Aguero rescued a point for the hosts in the return game.

Guardiola laid it on thick after that 1-1 draw, declaring it to be "one of the most special days of my life".

"He is Spanish. They are a little bit more emotional than the Germans," Klopp chuckled in response.

TON-UP BUT NOT INVINCIBLE AND THE ROAD TO KIEV

Liverpool beat City three times in 2017-18, when most other teams could barely lay a glove on Guardiola's record-breaking side.

But the game where City prevailed, an unusual 5-0 thrashing at the Etihad Stadium where Liverpool subsided meekly after Sadio Mane's red card for clattering Ederson with a high boot, arguably had the biggest influence on the campaign.

When that game was 11 v 11, Guardiola's back three was horribly exposed. Aguero's opener arrived against the run of play, with an unusually wasteful Mohamed Salah having tormented Nicolas Otamendi.

City never used 3-5-2 in the league again that season, reverting to a swashbuckling 4-3-3 that churned out 19 consecutive wins and made the second half of the schedule a virtual procession.

Liverpool halted their designs on invincibility however, claiming a raucous 4-3 Anfield win in January. Klopp hailed "pressing from another planet" by his front three as Roberto Firmino, Mane and Salah were all on target in a euphoric nine-minute spell after half-time.

Guardiola had again seen a swift avalanche of goals bring the roof in during a big match and his tweak to a 4-4-2 diamond, eyeing avenues around those Liverpool pressing lanes, backfired in that season's Champions League quarter-final.

A 3-0 first-leg loss at Anfield, with all the goals arriving during the first half, left City with a mountain to climb and a death-or-glory approach in the return fixture – deploying a formation probably best described as 3-CHARGE!!! – eventually ran out of steam in a 2-1 loss.

But it was Liverpool who came up short in the Kiev final on Loris Karius' nightmare outing against Real Madrid, while City sauntered to a 100-point haul as dominant Premier League champions. Sitting 25 points back in fourth, the Reds had a considerable gap to bridge.

CHASING PERFECTION

Despite that deficit, their efforts in going blow-for-blow with City over 90-minute periods left the impression Liverpool were the best placed of the pretenders to overthrow the champions.

Both teams reconvened on Merseyside undefeated in October 2018 and remained that way as the free-flowing nature of recent meetings gave way to a cagey 0-0 draw.

Reprising the theme of those early Klassiker meetings, Guardiola took his foot off the throttle as City played at a controlled tempo – an approach that would have ended the club's Anfield hoodoo but for Riyad Mahrez's ballooned late penalty.

Fire and brimstone returned the following January, though, with a wobbling City recovering their poise and avoiding a 10-point deficit at the top. Aguero and Leroy Sane were on target either side of Firmino in a bravura display, where Aymeric Laporte took on the unfamiliar role of left-back to stifle Salah.

That was Liverpool's only loss of the season as they finished on 97 points, agonisingly one shy of City. However, their subsequent Champions League final win over Tottenham improbably propelled them further along.

Just as Guardiola has tempered some of his more cavalier tendencies when faced with Klopp, the challenge of an unrelenting City also forced the Liverpool boss into subtle and decisive tweaks.

In bringing in Alisson and Virgil van Dijk, he spent big for what many see as the finest goalkeeper and centre-back on the planet. Their very presence means risk can be reduced.

Heavy metal football has given way to a steady pulsing beat that never wavers. In the city of Merseybeat, Klopp has gone electro.

Amid their steamrollering of the opposition this season, Liverpool have 19 wins by a solitary goal in all competitions. They are frighteningly and ruthlessly clinical. A profligate City trail in their wake, although Guardiola has used this relative freedom from pressure to thumb intriguingly through his tactical playbook in 2020.

Both men have inspired the other to reach beyond their comfort zones and the result is the two best teams in world football. With Klopp contracted to Liverpool until 2024 and Guardiola talking up an extended stay, the thought occurs that they are each other's motivation for sticking around. There is nowhere better to measure their greatness than against one another.

Liverpool have reportedly put their plans to sign Timo Werner on hold, while Paulo Dybala's future could be clearer soon.

Werner, 24, was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool from RB Leipzig, but the coronavirus pandemic may have changed that.

Meanwhile, Dybala's future is set to be clear shortly.

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL PUT WERNER PLANS ON HOLD

Liverpool have put their plans to sign Werner on hold and also stopped contract talks due to coronavirus, according to The Daily Mail.

There is uncertainty over the financial statuses of sporting clubs around the world due to coronavirus and Liverpool are waiting until there is greater clarity.

Star midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and defender Dejan Lovren are among the Liverpool players out of contract in 2021.

One club seemingly not prepared to wait are Juventus, with CalcioMercato reporting Dybala is getting closer to a contract extension with the Serie A giants.

 

ROUND-UP

- Luka Modric is going nowhere. AS claims the midfielder will see out his contract, which runs until 2021, at Real Madrid. Just what Madrid's midfield looks like next season remains to be seen. Sport says Madrid will let James Rodriguez leave and bring Martin Odegaard back from his loan spell at Real Sociedad. It also reports Takefusa Kubo will be used as part of a deal to bring back Odegaard.

- Talk about a deal that would see Neymar return to Barcelona and Antoine Griezmann join Paris Saint-Germain remains alive. According to Sport, PSG would welcome Griezmann while they attempt to re-sign Kylian Mbappe to unite the France team-mates at club level.

- One player unlikely to be at PSG is Edinson Cavani. Tuttosport reports Napoli are thinking about bringing the forward, who is out of contract at the end of the season, back to the Stadio San Paolo.

- Marc-Andre ter Stegen's future remains unclear. Sport claims Barcelona and the goalkeeper are no closer to renewing a contract that will expire in 2022.

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan is seemingly happy on loan at Roma, but whether he stays remains to be seen. The Daily Express says Arsenal have rejected two bids – the last one around €11.4million (£10m) – from the Serie A club, who may instead turn to Chelsea's Pedro.

- As they plan a move for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, Chelsea have told Willian he has no chance of getting a three-year deal, according to the Mirror. Willian is out of contract at the end of the season.

Barcelona are prepared to use Antoine Griezmann in a deal to land Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain.

Neymar, 28, has constantly been linked with a return to Camp Nou, but ended up staying at PSG during the last close season.

It seems Barcelona will pursue the Brazil international again and they may be prepared to offer Griezmann in a deal.

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA TO OFFER GRIEZMANN TO PSG IN NEYMAR DEAL

Despite it proving such an ordeal to sign Griezmann in the first place, Barca will try to use him as a makeweight in a deal to land Neymar, according to Sky Sports.

The report says the Spanish giants are prepared to let Griezmann go just one season after signing him from Atletico Madrid, as they reportedly also target Inter forward Lautaro Martinez.

Barca will try to sell the forward elsewhere if PSG are not interested, the story claims, with the Frenchman underwhelming since his switch to Camp Nou.

ROUND-UP

- Liverpool are apparently preparing for a battle with Germany. The Mirror reports Germany see Jurgen Klopp – contracted at Anfield until 2024 – as a successor to coach Joachim Low.

Manchester United remain interested in Erling Haaland. ESPN claims the Premier League club are again ready to compete for the forward's services with Real Madrid if the Norway international decides to leave Borussia Dortmund.

- Will Gareth Bale remain at Real Madrid? The Mirror suggests the Wales international is ready to fight for his place at the Santiago Bernabeu despite his differences with coach Zinedine Zidane.

Saul Niguez is apparently wanted in the Premier League. AS says Man United are willing to pay around £71million (€80m) for the Atletico midfielder, who has a release clause of £132.5m (€150m).

Barcelona may be prepared to sell players this close season, but Arthur will not be among them. Sport reports the Spanish champions see the midfielder as a key player. Meanwhile, it is also claimed Gent star Jonathan David has been offered to the Blaugrana.

Juventus have reportedly secured the futures of two players. Rai Sport understands Blaise Matuidi has extended his contract with Juve until 2021, while Marko Pjaca – who is on loan at Anderlecht – has agreed to a deal until 2023.

Manuel Neuer will be number one at Bayern Munich next season and will help Alexander Nubel to develop, according to Oliver Kahn.

Neuer's contract expires in 2021 and there are reports of an impasse in talks over a new deal, leading to suggestions the 34-year-old could be moved on at the end of the season.

Bayern have already signed Nubel on a five-year deal, with the Schalke goalkeeper to switch to the Allianz Arena on a free transfer ahead of the next campaign.

However, Bayern board member and former keeper Kahn expects Nubel to be second choice next term, as he predicts Neuer will continue at the highest level for some time.

"In general, as I have shown myself, goalkeepers can of course play into old age, but maintaining a high level is a great challenge," Kahn, who retired at 38, told Sport Bild.

"In Alexander Nubel, we get a highly talented goalkeeper, who has the chance to develop and learn behind Manuel Neuer. Not many have the opportunity to work with the best goalkeeper in the world every day."

While 2019-20 is on hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bayern are said to be putting transfer plans in place ahead of next season.

Interim boss Hansi Flick said this month that he believes coaches should have the power to veto transfers proposed by club managers, amid suggestions he has been at odds with sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic over Bayern's planning.

Kahn admits it is important that Bayern "march in one direction in order to develop the team further".

He added: "Of course, the coach is a very important factor in terms of transfer plans. Hasan Salihamidzic, Hansi Flick and I discussed and coordinated this and other topics intensively.

"The coach can and should put forward his ideas."

Neymar, Lautaro Martinez or both? Barcelona may have a decision to make this close season.

Neymar has been linked with a return to Camp Nou, while the LaLiga giants are also reportedly interested in Inter star Martinez.

Barcelona could be forced to choose between the two in the next transfer window.

 

TOP STORY – NEYMAR, MARTINEZ OR BOTH? BARCELONA'S BIG DECISION

Barcelona want both Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar and Inter's Martinez but know it will be difficult to land the duo, according to Sport.

It reports landing Martinez is shaping to be easier as Inter are willing to accept players as part of a deal.

Martinez has scored 16 goals in 31 games for Inter this season, while Neymar has netted 18 times in 22 appearances for PSG.

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could be turning to an old target. ESPN reports the Premier League club are prepared to make a bid for Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt if the Serie A giants are open to a sale this close season.

- Harry Kane's future at Tottenham seemingly remains unclear. But The Daily Mail says Spurs are confident of keeping the forward, who said on Monday he would not stay at the club just "for the sake of it".

- It looks like Jadon Sancho to Liverpool will not be happening. The Mirror claims the Premier League leaders are not targeting the Borussia Dortmund star, leaving United and Chelsea as the English clubs still in the chase.

- Where will Philippe Coutinho end up next season? Sport reports Leicester City are interested in a loan deal for the playmaker, who is on loan at Bayern Munich from Barcelona. Staying at Camp Nou and Sport says Barcelona are considering a move for Layvin Kurzawa, who is out of contract at PSG at season's end, as a back-up to Jordi Alba.

- Edinson Cavani is also out of contract at the end of the season at PSG, but CalcioMercato reports the Uruguayan striker will not be joining Atletico Madrid, the club he has been linked to.

- With Alexis Sanchez set to return to Manchester United from his loan spell at Inter, The Sun reports the club will be forced to pay the attacker a £1.1million loyalty payment.

The resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving players with plenty of time to analyse their performances this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking and passing numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of the defence.

We have analysed nine metrics for defenders to have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose defending could use some improvement.

The metrics include success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges, errors leading to shots and goals and how many times a player has been dribbled past by an opponent.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For success rates in duels, tackling and aerial challenges we have only included players who have completed 20 actions in each category, which accounts to two per game.

The below therefore provides a good indication on where improvement is needed, and there are a few surprising names…

 

THE WORST DEFENDING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most tackles lost: William (29)
Worst tackle success: Alexander Hack (40.91 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Robin Koch (3)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: William (32)
Most duels lost: Stefan Lainer (125)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Robin Koch and Sven Bender (56)
Worst aerial success: Christian Gunter (22.86 per cent)

LALIGA:

Most tackles lost: Pervis Estupinan (34)
Worst tackle success: Nacho Monreal (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Joseph Aidoo and Sergio Ramos (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Marc Cucurella (35)
Most duels lost: Marc Cucurella (167)
Worst duel success: Daniel Carrico (40.3 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Didac Vila (55)
Worst aerial success: Xavi Quintilla (25.71 per cent)

LIGUE 1:

Most tackles lost: Boubacar Kamara (33)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Sofiane Alakouch, Timothee Kolodziejczak and Stefan Mitrovic (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Wesley Fofana, Alexander Djiku and Malang Sarr (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Arturo Calabresi (42)
Most duels lost: Issiaga Sylla (161)
Worst duel success: Colin Dagba (40 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Pablo Martinez (59)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Calum Chambers (38.46 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Jan Bednarek, Tyrone Mings, John Egan, Davinson Sanchez and James Tarkowski (4)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Benjamin Mendy (37.38 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Max Aarons (26.09 per cent)

SERIE A:

Most tackles lost: Matteo Darmian (32)
Worst tackle success: Andrea Cistana (40 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Jhon Chancellor, Fabio Lucioni, Jose Luis Palomino, Alex Sandro (2)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Stefano Sabelli (40)
Most duels lost: Giovanni Di Lorenzo (126)
Worst duel success: Hans Hateboer (40.63 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Mattia Bani (57)
Worst aerial success: Jeremy Toljan (28.00 per cent)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most tackles lost: Ricardo Pereira (50)
Worst tackle success: Lionel Carole (34.78 per cent)
Most errors leading to goals: Robin Koch and Jan Bednarek (3)
Most errors leading to shots (including goals): Pervis Estupinan and Fabio Lucioni (5)
Most dribbled past by an opponent: Ricardo Pereira (53)
Most duels lost: Ricardo Pereira (215)
Worst duel success: Julian Ryerson (35 per cent)
Most aerials lost: Ben Mee (84)
Worst aerial success: Hamza Mendyl (17.39 per cent)

The decision to suspend the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga seasons until at least April 30 due to the coronavirus pandemic has been ratified, with a task force established to aid the campaign's eventual continuation.

The German Football League (DFL) announced an extension to the hiatus a week ago and, during a video conference on Tuesday, the proposal was unanimously approved by all relevant parties.

Further measures were also agreed during the meeting, including the formation of a task force to oversee planning for "continuation of gaming and training operations", and temporary alterations to sanctions implemented for financial problems.

The DFL remains committed to finishing the season by the end of June, in line with the request from UEFA, and is planning on resuming action in controlled environments.

The "sports medicine/special game operations task force" will develop an outline for this situation.

"A medical task force has been established to create a concept with the aim of medically justifiable continuation of gaming and training operations," a DFL statement read. "In a first step, this will centrally document all COVID-19 cases at the clubs of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga.

"In addition, the commission is developing a procedure with which close, independent testing of players and other staff can be carried out, among other things, immediately before the matchdays.

"Furthermore, organisational measures in the stadium to avoid transmission (hygiene, disinfection, distance, etc.) as well as special processes in the game and training organisation are defined and uniformly laid down in a guideline. Close coordination with external experts and authorities is sought."

The DFL will also allow greater leeway with respect to clubs' potential financial issues in the current climate, confirming the nine-point deduction for opening insolvency proceedings has been suspended for this season.

The statement added: "This means for the current season that the deduction of nine points is suspended as a sanction for opening insolvency proceedings (Section 11 No. 5 of the licensing regulations).

"In the event of bankruptcy in the coming season, a penalty would be deducted of only three points. Furthermore, in the upcoming licensing procedure for the 2020-21 season, the clubs' liquidity situation will not be checked.

"However, the DFL prefers to review economic performance during the next season from the end of October to mid-September in order to get a realistic picture of the economic situation of the individual clubs as soon as possible based on the annual financial statements as of June 30, 2020.

"For the 2021-22 season, the licensing procedure is to be used again in the usual way - as a guarantee of the economic solidity and stability of German professional football."

Jadon Sancho is the name on everyone's lips.

The Borussia Dortmund teenager has taken Europe by storm and clubs are queuing up.

But Manchester United are reportedly at the front of the line.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED IN TOUCH WITH SANCHO AGENT

Manchester United have contacted Jadon Sancho's agent as they look to sign the Borussia Dortmund sensation, according to Fabrizio Romano.

Sancho tops the list of United's transfer targets following his exploits for the Bundesliga side, with Liverpool and Chelsea also reportedly interested.

But Dortmund – who will not stand in Sancho's way of a departure – are unwilling to budge on their €110million (£98m) valuation.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Chelsea are preparing a huge contract offer for Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma. It comes as the Blues reportedly look to sell Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Juventus are interested in Achraf Hakimi, says Calciomercato. Achraf is set to return to Real Madrid following a two-year loan spell at Dortmund. Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have also been linked to the Moroccan full-back.

Inter have named their price for Barcelona target Lautaro Martinez, Calciomercato reports. With a release clause of €111m, Inter want at least €80m in cash.

- Birmingham City's 16-year-old star Jude Bellingham is set to reject a transfer to United in favour of Dortmund, says Bild.

Tottenham and Arsenal, along with Crystal Palace and West Ham, are eyeing Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren, according to Team Talk.

- Calciomercato claims Inter have not given up on signing Napoli forward Dries Mertens on a free transfer. The Belgian star is out of contract at the end of 2019-20.

Madrid is the preferred option for Rennes teenager Eduardo Camavinga, says Marca. Liverpool, Dortmund and PSG have also emerged as possible suitors for the 17-year-old.

- Corriere dello Sport says Valencia are eyeing Inter centre-back Diego Godin, who has been linked to United and Tottenham.

Roma are lining up a move for Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa, says Diario AS. Clubs in Brazil and Qatar are also reportedly circling.

Joshua Kimmich feels high-profile footballers have "a certain responsibility" to play their part in the fight against coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Bayern Munich and Germany midfielder Kimmich set up an initiative along with club and international team-mate Leon Goretzka called 'We Kick Corona', a fund for charities and social institutions during the COVID-19 crisis.

There have been 2,000 donors to the cause, including Robert Lewandowski, who pledged €1million euros along with his wife, and the total has now surpassed €3.5m, with Mats Hummels, Leroy Sane and Timo Werner listed among the supporters on the initiative's website.

Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen have also vowed to make a €20m pot available to Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga clubs who may struggle financially due to the leagues' suspensions.

"As a soccer player you have a certain responsibility," Kimmich said in an interview for Bayern's website.

"We also have the scope to move forward in terms of solidarity. Leon and I, and now the FC Bayern Munich team, have naturally thought about how we can help - both our own employees and the society outside the club.

"Therefore we started the initiative and hope that we can help many people who need help during this time."

There have been over 66,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Germany, which, like most of Europe, has implemented a lockdown in order to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Bayern's players are therefore training remotely and Kimmich has been pleasantly surprised by how well those virtual sessions have gone.

"In the beginning I was very sceptical whether the cyber training would work," he admitted.

"But you have to say that it is fun. It's a good opportunity for us to keep in touch with the players.

"Everyone is there, you can see each other on your mobile phone or whatever device you are logged in with.

"You have to compliment the fitness trainers at this point because it works really well.

"We players sweat a lot, give everything and every player pulls along very well."

With football no closer to being resumed as the coronavirus pandemic continues, players across Europe's top-five leagues have lots of time to pore over their performances from this season.

Using Opta data, we have already examined some of the worst attacking numbers from 2019-20, so now it's the turn of those ball-playing technicians: the pass-masters.

We have analysed nine key metrics for outfield players to play in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those whose passing could use some improvement. Those metrics are focused on the number of passes (overall, in a player's own half and their opponent's half), the accuracy of those passes, corners and crosses, and losing possession.

As always when it comes to data, context is key. For instance, we have included overall accuracy percentages to give balance to the simple number of passes. A team's playmaker or set-piece taker, for example, is arguably more likely to have a larger number of misplaced passes than team-mates simply because he will be attempting more of them, and often in difficult areas.

It's also worth noting that the number of times possession has been lost excludes 'Hoofs' (which, by their nature, make losing the ball more common), while corner and crossing accuracy is taken only from those to attempt, on average, at least one per game.

That said, the below gives a good indication of some passing figures that need improvement - and there are one or two surprising names...

THE WORST PASSING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Most passes failed: Robert Andrich (291)
Worst passing accuracy: Anthony Modeste (55.4 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Jamilu Collins (110)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Kai Proger (60.5 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Sebastian Andersson (215)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Anthony Modeste (42.1 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Filip Kostic (199)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Wendell (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost: Filip Kostic (616)

LALIGA:

Most passes failed: Leandro Cabrera (352)
Worst passing accuracy: Enric Gallego (48.6 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Pervis Estupinan (94)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Sergio Leon (57.1 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Joselu (283)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Leandro Cabrera (43.5 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Jesus Navas (134)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Karim Benzema (0 of 19)
Most times possession lost: Pervis Estupinan (534)

LIGUE 1:

Most passes failed: Issiaga Sylla (281)
Worst passing accuracy: Suk Hyun-jun (44.8 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Fabien Centonze (111)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Suk Hyun-jun (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Andy Delort (238)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half:  Suk Hyun-jun (44.4 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Mathieu Dossevi (142)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): M'Baye Niang (0 of 11)
Most times possession lost: Angel Di Maria (539)

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Most passes failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (480)
Worst passing accuracy: Christian Benteke (52.4 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Cesar Azpilicueta (132)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Matej Vydra (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (359)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Christian Benteke (48 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (246)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Gabriel Martinelli (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost:  Trent Alexander-Arnold (867)

SERIE A:

Most passes failed: Stefano Sabelli (324)
Worst passing accuracy: Lautaro Martinez (59.5 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Stefano Sabelli (94)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Stefano Sabelli (230)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Florian Aye (58.5 per cent)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Roberto Inglese (54 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Erick Pulgar (134)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Kevin Lasagna (0 from 13)
Most possession lost: Stefano Sabelli (494)

AND THE TOP NINE:

Most passes failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (480)
Worst passing accuracy: Suk Hyun-jun (44.8 per cent)
Most passes failed, own half: Cesar Azpilicueta (132)
Worst passing accuracy, own half: Suk Hyun-jun and Matej Vydra (50 per cent)
Most passes failed, opposition half: Trent Alexander-Arnold (359)
Worst passing accuracy, opposition half: Anthony Modeste (42.1 per cent)
Most corners/crosses failed: Trent Alexander-Arnold (246)
Worst corners/crosses accuracy (minimum 10): Wendell and Gabriel Martinelli (0 of 22)
Most times possession lost: Trent Alexander-Arnold (867)

Real Madrid are reportedly preparing for a rebuild and Erling Haaland and Sadio Mane are their top transfer targets.

The LaLiga club appear set for a busy close season amid links to numerous players.

While Arsenal forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is said to be a target, it seems Madrid have other priorities.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND, MANE TOP TARGETS FOR REAL MADRID

Borussia Dortmund forward Haaland and Liverpool star Mane are Real Madrid's top targets, according to the Daily Express.

The report says Aubameyang is also wanted at the Santiago Bernabeu, but is behind Haaland and Mane.

Real Madrid were two points behind LaLiga leaders Barcelona when the season was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Real Madrid and the LaLiga giants are tracking Sao Paulo midfielder Igor Gomes, according to AS. A Brazil youth international, Gomes, 21, has been compared to former AC Milan star Kaka.

- Ousmane Dembele is seemingly unwanted at Barcelona and could be set for a move. Sport reports Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp want Dembele, who has struggled with injuries since joining the LaLiga club.

- Barcelona are continuing their bid to land Lautaro Martinez. Sport claims left-back Junior Firpo could be part of a deal to bring the Inter star to Camp Nou. It says Inter, and Roma, are interested in the left-back and Barca would want the €18million they paid Real Betis for Junior last year.

- Manchester United could be set to make a big move this close season. The Daily Star reports the Premier League club are confident of landing Atletico Madrid midfielder Saul Niguez for a club-record £135m (€150.8m).

- Perhaps Manchester United had another target. However, Sport says Real Madrid have told United that midfielder Federico Valverde is worth his incredible release clause – £448m (€500m).

- Henrikh Mkhitaryan is loving life in Rome. The Daily Mail reports the midfielder, who is on loan at Roma from Arsenal, wants to stay at the club and hopes they can agree to a €11.2m (£10m) deal.

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